Allentown resident gives of himself every season

Boro man creates skating rink, park trails, fishing derby


Staff Writer

MIGUEL JUAREZ staff Ron Dunster and his wife, Myrtle, discuss their active involvement in the Allentown community at their Main Street home.MIGUEL JUAREZ staff Ron Dunster and his wife, Myrtle, discuss their active involvement in the Allentown community at their Main Street home. It might be easier to note the community activities Ron Dunster doesn’t do rather than list all the things he does.

Dunster, who serves on the executive board for commemoration of Allentown’s 300th anniversary and the executive board of the Giveback Foundation, a group dedicated to helping people in life-altering circumstances, also serves as the borough’s recreation commissioner. However, the list doesn’t end there.

The Allentown resident also instituted the ice-skating rink at Lakeview Arena; helps organize youth basketball games; and sponsors the Fourth of July fishing contest along with the Hackettstown State Fish Hatchery, located in Hackettstown Township. But the list doesn’t end there either.

For the past three years, Dunster has served on the Freedom Fest Committee to organize Allentown’s annual fair, and he formerly co-directed the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in the New Egypt section of Plumsted. He and his wife of 45 years, Myrtle, also participate in the mentoring program sponsored by the Allentown Presbyterian Church.

Even though his community service could be considered a full-time job, Dunster, 65, is not yet retired. For the past 30 years, he has owned a safety electronics business that serves the oil and chemical industries.

The Dunsters moved from Carteret to their 80-year-old house on South Main Street in 1985 and have contributed to their hometown ever since in many ways.

For years, the summer school program at the nearby elementary and middle schools used the Dunsters’ pool for summer recreation, as did the community Child Watch program, according to Dunster.

“Many kids learned to swim in my pool,” Dunster said. “It’s a hole in the ground until you put water and kids in it.”

The family has also allowed the Allentown Fire Company to use the pool during the winter months to test its snorkel equipment, according to Dunster.

When it comes to winter, Dunster has a warm place in his heart for the borough’s 38-acre Heritage Park, as he created a sleigh-riding hill there.

Not only did he create a cold weather activity at Heritage Park, but Dunster also coordinated a Civil War re-enactment at the park for the borough’s Fall Festival, and helped local Boy Scouts, Imlaystown Alternative School students and other locals build trails throughout the facility.

Ivan Olinsky, president of Princeton Nurseries, called Dunster “without a doubt, one of the most caring individuals I have ever had the opportunity to work with.”

Olinsky said he and Dunster have worked side by side for years on many charity and community projects. He said Dunster does whatever is asked of him with complete dedication and intensity.

“He does not only get involved, [but] he [also] always takes one of the leadership roles,” Olinsky said.

He said Dunster personally oversees that the goals of any project are met.

“On many occasions Ron personally pays the bill to assure that nothing stands in the way,” Olinsky said. “He certainly is a special individual who never takes no for an answer and will never turn down anyone in need.”

Olinsky added that Dunster’s efforts with the Giveback Foundation have been instrumental in granting awards to the group’s first two recipients.

Olinsky called Dunster “an irreplaceable force in our community.” He said Dunster can be seen in Woody’s Towne Cafe in Allentown on any given day, promoting some phase of community enhancement and development.

“Ron’s motto is ‘Yes, it will be done’ — and it always is,” Olinsky said. “He is a model husband, father, friend [and] humanitarian, and Allentown’s so-called director of community caring.”

Allentown attorney Frank Armenante echoed Olinsky’s comments about Dunster.

“Although I have known Ron for years, my first insight into his passion and drive was through the Giveback Foundation,” Armenante said.

“When it comes to caring, compassion, dedication and getting the job done,” Armenante said, “Ron is a force that makes the difference.”

Armenante called Dunster’s service to the Allentown community “legendary.”

Although Dunster estimates that he spends between 15 and 20 hours a week on volunteer work, he is certainly not all work and no play, he said. He owns four antique cars and is also director of the Mid-Jersey Antique Car Club.

As director of the car club, Dunster plans the annual car shows during the borough’s Memorial Day parade, Spring Stroll, Fall Festival and other events.

The former standardbred owner replaced his interest in harness racing with auto racing. According to Dunster, he and his wife now attend between six and eight NASCAR events every year. The couple also enjoys watching the Trenton Titans and goes to two dozen hockey games each season. However, he said, his family is his favorite pastime.

“Our family and friends are more important to us than all of the toys we have accumulated,” Dunster said. “We have a son and daughter-in-law, two daughters and sons-in-law, and seven grandchildren.

“I’ve got it all,” he said.

“People know how hard he works and where his heart is,” Myrtle Dunster said.

Mrs. Dunster said her husband enjoys working for the community and especially for local children. He would work on the ice-skating rink every night and give out donated skates to children who did not own a pair, according to Mrs. Dunster.

Dunster said he is excited about the 300th anniversary ice-skating party scheduled for the first week in February. The event will feature bonfires and food, as well as skating for both children and their families.

“I get more out of it just watching them,” he said.

“Giving back to the community is what a community should be,” Mrs. Dunster said. “It’s like family — it should come naturally. You give to family, you give to the community.”

Dunster added that there are different ways to get involved with the community, and they don’t necessarily have to involve money.

“The most valuable thing is time,” he said. “[But] most people don’t have it.”