Michigan Hall of Fame horseman Ron Wrenn died Saturday afternoon, May 10, after a battle with cancer. He was 62.
Mr. Wrenn was a member of one of Michigan's founding families of harness racing, following in the footsteps of his late father, Howard. Mr. Wrenn’s brothers Gary, Mark and Peter also all have had success in harness racing.
Mr. Wrenn was inducted into Michigan’s Hall of Fame in 2009, one year after his brother, Peter, who is one of the sport’s leading drivers. Mr. Wrenn is the father of driver Ronnie Wrenn Jr., who led the national dash standings in 2013 and among the leaders this year.
“He was my role model and my mentor,” said Ronnie Wrenn Jr. “We talked every day and we had a bond, especially over the last five years as I began driving. He had a passion for horse racing and I developed the same because of him.”
“He taught me to enjoy the simple things in life, how to always smile and never to judge,” said Mr. Wrenn’s daughter, Sandy, who is engaged to be married to horseman Trace Tetrick, “and for that I will always be thankful. I will carry him in my heart forever.”
Among the better horses Mr. Wrenn drove in his career were Hot Selection, who was a multiple series winner at The Meadows in 1987, Time To Cash, who set a Wolverine Raceway track record of 1:57.2 while winning a Matron division in 1982, and the Michigan champion Timely Butler. He also drove O’Gal to a win in the 1981 Michigan Cup Trot at Hazel Park.
One of Mr. Wrenn’s favorite horses was the pacing mare Say Woe, who he drove to more than $250,000 in earnings in the 1980s.
According to the U.S. Trotting Association, which began keep driver stats in 1977, Mr. Wrenn won 1,995 races and more than $6 million in purses. He won a career high 213 races in 1977 to rank among the sport’s leaders that year. In 1977 he drove four Michigan champions: Pine Ayres, Status Seeker, Steady Shadow and Thumb Ambler.
Mr. Wrenn is survived by his wife, Mary; a son, Ronnie, daughters Sandy and Katherine; brothers Peter (Melanie) and Gary (Dawn); a twin sister, Phyllis (Bob) Etienne); a sister Lynn (Keith) Koeffler); and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, Howard and Joyce, and a brother, Mark.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 19, at St. Augustine Church, 6481 Faussett Road, Howell Mich. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. A luncheon will follow immediately after the service.
Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society or directly to Mary Wrenn, 7358 Clyde Road, Howell, Mich. 48855.
by Gordon Waterstone for Harnessracing.com