The Times of Israel - Rona Ramon, widow of late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon and the mother of late IAF pilot Assaf Ramon, passed away on Monday. Ramon was married to the first Israeli astronaut who was killed in 2003 in the fatal Columbia mission alongside six other crew members.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed the deep sorrow he and his wife Sara felt at her passing, "Rona withstood heroically the death of her husband and her son Assaf, of blessed memory, ...She fought cancer with the same heroism, we will always remember her and her amazing family,"
Minister of Science, Technology and Space Ofir Akunis said that "we lost a heroic and noble woman. During our three year-long acquaintance I got to see up-close the spectacular work she did in honoring the memory of her late husband Ilan Ramon and her son Assaf of blessed memory, ..."
Rona Ramon largely stayed out of the public eye for years following her husband’s death, trying to make sense of her loss. But on September 13, 2009, she was forced back into the spotlight by the death of the couple’s oldest son. Capt. Asaf Ramon, who was 21, was killed when his F-16 warplane crashed during a routine training flight. Inspired by his father, he had excelled in his training and was awarded his pilot’s wings by then-president Shimon Peres. Asaf had expressed hope that he, too, would one day become an astronaut.
The pair of tragedies inspired Rona Ramon to earn a masters degree in holistic health from Lesley University in Massachusetts. She established the Ramon Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes personal and social excellence through space, flight, science, and technology. She also gave speeches across Israel and offered grief counseling to others.
“The decision to go study emerged from the crisis I went through,” she told The Associated Press in 2013. “Only by directly facing it could I cope. Time is tricky. Over time, you lose objectivity, Sometimes, it feels like it happened ages ago, and sometimes it feels like it just happened.”
In 2016, Ramon was chosen to light one of the torches at the annual state ceremony marking Israel’s 68th Independence Day.
Rona Ramon is survived by three children, Tal, Yiftah and Noa.
The Ramon Foundation said in a statement that Ramon “passed away today peacefully in her home, surrounded by her family and close friends.
“Rona never ceased in her efforts to positively affect Israeli society and to leave a mark upon those around her. She was an inspiring woman, who left us knowing that her legacy and the legacy of her son and husband will live on in the widespread educational work of which she was a part,...”
The family requested that the public respect their privacy and refrain from nearing their home.
Lawmakers from across the political spectrum issued statements in memory of the “inspirational” Ramon. Funeral details were to be issued later.