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Founder of Urban Edge and JP Organizer Who Helped ‘Stop I-95’, Ron Hafer, Passes Away at 88

Last updated on February 1, 2024

The following obituary was provided by Ron Hafer’s family:

Founder of Urban Edge, community organizer and activist who helped “Stop I-95”, Ron Hafer passed peacefully on December 27, 2023 at Rogerson House in Jamaica Plain at the age of 88, with his beloved wife of 55 years, Ellen, by his side.

Hafer participated in the March to Selma, worked with the Blue Hills Christian Center, created the Community Leadership Center in the mid-1960’s, helped develop the Ecumenical Social Action Committee (ESAC), and was a principal in the fight to halt the construction of I-95 from coming through the heart of Jamaica Plain—including painting “Stop I-95 – People Before Highways” in two-story tall letters along Columbus Avenue.

Working with the ESAC Housing Committee, Hafer established Urban Edge in 1974, where he served as Executive Director until 1988. Urban Edge will turn 50 this year and has helped build and renovate affordable homes for thousands in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury.

Hafer’s community work continued into his 70s and 80s, including St. Mary of the Angels Parish in Roxbury, Egleston Square Main Streets, and Franklin Park Coalition, helping found Egleston Square Neighborhood Association (ESNA), and as a Trustee of Mount Pleasant Home (MPH).

Hafer grew up in Normal, Illinois with his brother Hewitt Hafer and parents Theodore and Bertha Hafer. He is survived by his wife Ellen, and their children, spouses, and grandchildren. Nate, Taryl, Miles, and Zuri Hafer; Statia, James, and Max Rossi; Thomas Hafer and Steven Frank. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews in Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He is also remembered by countless friends, neighbors and colleagues who recall his passion, his activism, his kind heart, his walks through Franklin Park, and his “loud, proud, and ringing tenor solo in ‘Go Tell it on the Mountain’.”

His family invites those who want to honor Hafer to join them at a Celebration of Life service and reception to be held at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Hall at 45 Brookside Ave., Jamaica Plain, on Feb. 10, 2024 at 11 am. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Ronald T. Hafer may be made to Urban Edge, Inc. 1542 Columbus Ave., Roxbury, MA 02119 or