The initial crisis was traumatic enough. Last month, 4-year-old Zeke Powell was diagnosed with a rare cancer that attacked his muscles. It was stage 4. He began chemotherapy, which rocked the entire family from Inverness -- Zeke's sister, Yolanda, his mother Alex and father Ron. Ron worked as an engineer retrieving data from hard drives at a Novato company.
"He came back to work for a couple days when Zeke was going to come back and he had a smile on his face and you could just see the pride and see that things were going to be OK," said Mike Cobb, Ron's supervisor.
Then on Sunday morning, just days after Zeke returned from his first round of chemo, Ron died in his sleep of an apparent heart attack. He was only 43.
"It is indescribable," said Cobb.
"His role was to keep everything stable and calm and loving," said Dakota Whitney, a friend of the family.
The entire West Marin community is stunned.
"He seemed to feel fine, but obviously it was devastating and terrifying," said Whitney.
A restaurant in Point Reyes Station held a fundraising dinner Wednesday night, donating money to help the family. And where Ron worked, they are signing a condolence book.
"I'll miss you Ron," said Cobb.
A memorial service is set for this Saturday.
Tax-exempt donations benefiting the Powell-Porrata family can be made at www.ezpowell.org, or at any Wells Fargo branch by referencing the Roneil Powell Memorial Fund. Please denote "Gift Donation" on your transaction. The Federal Taxpayer ID # for the memorial Fund is: 46-4722983.