Ronnie Rines Family photo

Ronnie Rines was a hardworking, funny and charismatic guy who liked telling bawdy jokes and wasn’t afraid to say what was on his mind.

A shipfitter at Bath Iron Works, he retired in late September after 40 years on the job. He had dreams of renovating the house he had built to sell it and simplify his life.

But Rines, who chose not to get vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 just weeks into retirement.

He was admitted to MaineGeneral Health in Augusta on Nov. 13 and put on a ventilator. He died from complications of COVID-19 on Dec. 10. He was 61.

His daughter Shannon Schlager of Vassalboro spoke openly about her father’s diabetes, congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation. Schlager said his health deteriorated quickly after he was diagnosed with COVID. Her father, she said, was stubborn and skeptical about the vaccine.

“I wish he’d had the vaccine, 100 percent, especially at his age with his underlying health issues,” Schlager said. “I wish I had pushed it more. … I think it could have helped prevent him from getting this ill.”


Rines, of Pittston, had so much to live for, his daughter said. He was a devoted father to her and her two sisters and a proud grandfather of two. Schlager described her father as loving, kind and generous.

“Every year, he dropped off a pumpkin on my doorstep,” she said. “One year, he carved my name in it. He was constantly helping us out.”

Rines attended Gardiner Area High School and later received his GED. He held various jobs before joining Bath Iron Works, where he worked the second shift for a number of  years.

He retired before a federal mandate would have required him to get vaccinated by early next year.

Rines loved the outdoors. He enjoyed hunting, ice fishing, four-wheeling and working with his hands. One of his proudest accomplishments was building a home for his family.

According to his obituary, he was strong, independent and self-sufficient. He had fun playing cribbage and horseshoes. He was sarcastic, a great storyteller and known for his infectious belly laugh.


“He was so inappropriate, but it was hilarious,” Schlager said. “And he could get away with it. He was a very likable guy.”

Schlager, who tested positive for COVID-19 after her father died, said that after doctors at MaineGeneral placed her father on a ventilator, he developed pneumonia. His condition deteriorated quickly until there was little hope he would survive.

Rines liked Hank Williams Jr. and classic rock, Bad Company and Bob Seger, Schlager said. She played him his favorite songs as she and her sisters said their goodbyes.

“It was awful,” Schlager said of making the decision to remove him from the ventilator.

“Deep down, I know there was nothing the doctors could do, and making that decision was painful, knowing he wouldn’t want to live not being able to take care of himself,” she said. “That moment was truly heartbreaking as the doctors informed us he may pass that evening or over the weekend on his own. We wanted to embrace him while he took his last breath so he wouldn’t be alone.”

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