Ronnie Simonsen was most likely look ing forward to singing O Holy Night on Christmas at Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church in Salem, N.H. He loved to sing. But on Dec. 15 Ronnie lost his fight against leukemia. He was 55.

“The good news is that recurring thoughts of sorrow are overshadowed by feelings of joy, knowing that our son enriched the lives of so many,” said Jake Karrfalt, Ronnie’s stepfather.

In 1972, Ronnie made his debut at Camp Jabberwocky, a summer camp for children and adults with disabilities in Vineyard Haven. Everyone, including myself, admired his zest for life. “Ronnie was a caring, compassionate person who always thought of others,” said Kristen St. Amour, a board member at Camp Jabberwocky.

He sang at Grace Church and other churches on the Vineyard. Because he had an intellectual disability, he couldn’t remember every word to hymns but the congregations loved his improvising. “My favorite song was his rendition of How Great Thou Art,” said Kristin Pachico-Guyette, who was a camper at Camp Jabberwocky for years and a lifelong friend of Ronnie’s.

Camp Jabberwocky launched Ronnie’s interest in acting with its Studio Night and yearly end of camp plays and musicals. He performed several skits with actress Patricia Neal when she attended Studio Night performances.

He was born in Fairhaven. Due to his cerebral palsy, his doctor suggested he should be institutionalized. His parents disregarded the advice and felt Ronnie belonged at home with them. He underwent numerous surgeries during his early childhood. His mother prayed and “didn’t give up until Ron could finally walk,” Ronnie’s stepsister Kim Ho recalled.

Ms. Ho was a counselor at Camp Jabberwocky for 17 years. “Everyone knew Ronnie,” she said. “One of Ronnie’s most memorable public appearances each year was in the Fourth of July parade [in Edgartown].” Ronnie dragged his feet when he was walking so he “would wear through a pair of shoes hiking the mile and a half through the blazing sun, sweating under some outlandish costume his counselor had draped on him,” Ms. Ho said.

In the summer of 1993, I remember Camp Jabberwocky attended a performance at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs and Walter Cronkite was in the audience. No one dared to stop my friend Ronnie from storming up to meet the former CBS anchorman. He put his right hand out to greet him and said, “Hello, Walter, I’m Ronnie.” Two days later at Camp Jabberwocky, Ronnie interviewed Mr. Cronkite; the interview can be seen on Youtube.

Soap operas were a large part of Ronnie’s life and he had a savant-like ability to remember the names of actors and actresses and their roles. Ronnie corresponded with and met many of them.

His favorite television show was the 1970s medical drama Medical Center starring Chad Everett. I wondered why my friend Ronnie liked medical dramas so much. About 10 years ago he told me he had a doctor who took excellent care of him. Perhaps Mr. Everett reminded Ronnie of that physician.

They both corresponded for years and became close friends. They also shared their spiritual lives and prayed by phone and in person.

In 2003, a small group, which included myself, from Camp Jabberwocky, brought Ronnie to California to meet Mr. Everett. Arthur Bradford, now a codirector of Camp Jabberwocky, video-recorded the memorable event, which is also on Youtube. Before embracing each other, Mr. Everett said: “He is a very spiritual man. I definitely think he has been annointed — living proof what is inside that counts.”

Ronnie referred to himself as an actor. He was one of the stars in How’s Your News in the 1999 documentary with several other Camp Jabberwocky campers. They toured the country interviewing people along the way. Film festivals gave the documentary high acclaims. Ronnie went to a film camp for people with and without disabilities in California and also starred in several short movies such as The Return of the Muskrats.

“Ms. Neal’s daughter, Lucy Dahl, held a celebration party for Ronnie at her California home after he was strong enough to travel again following his bone marrow transplant, where Chad Everett and five other professional actors attended and roasted Ronnie,” said Jake Karrfalt.

During the past five years, letters and phone calls from family members, Camp Jabberwocky friends and other friends encouraged Ronnie and kept his spirits up while he was battling leukemia. He was laughing with the nurses moments before losing consciousness and peacefully dying at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

“He was a gentle soul who will be missed by all,” St. Amour said. “His energy and love for his extended camp family will carry on through all of us.”

Paul Remy is a freelance writer who lives in Fall River.