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Fiancé of Fairfax fire victim keeping his memory going

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 5:22 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -The fiancé of the man who died in this apartment fire in Fairfax back in December wants to keep his volunteer work going. 43-year old Ronnie Weston was found dead inside an apartment building lat 331 Vanderbilt Street. Investigators don’t yet know what caused the fire.

Before his death, Weston was hoping to help others like him turn their lives around. His loved ones are now working to make his last dream come true. Weston was starting up a nonprofit called “First Step.” The goal was to provide ex-felons with resources like jobs, clothing, and food.

“He loved everybody very much,” said Michael Trachta, Weston’s fiancé. “No matter what you did, no matter who he was as a person, he loved you.”

Boarded up doors, a charred roof and broken windows are what left of the taped off apartment building in Fairfax. It’s a sad scene Trachta avoids. He says Weston called him when the fire broke out.

“I was at Walmart,” he said. “He called me, and all I could hear was him coughing and hacking and saying I need you now.”

That was the last time he got to hear his fiance, Ronald Weston’s voice. “I opened the door to get to Ronnie and it was just a cloud,” Trachta described of that night. “It was such thick smoke it was like a brick wall hit me.”

He says Weston would have done the same for him, or anybody else. “I can barely eat,” he said. “He was my motivation to live.”

Now board members of the organization are hoping to make it happen and help felons who have served their time.

“When you get out you think you’re free,” said board member Joel Waltz. “But you have nowhere to go to. o one to talk to No one will let you into their apartment buildings, nobody will get you a job. It’s a very different scenario for a lot of guys. They need those first step opportunities.”

Trachta says he will do what’s needed to keep his fiancé's memory alive. “His dream was to have this nonprofit be successful and that’s what’s going to happen,” he said. “One way or another.”

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