Ronald (Ron) Lee Horst

August 16, 1949May 23, 2019
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Dr. Ronald Horst passed away on Thursday May 23, 2019 in the presence of his family at his home in Ames, IA. Ronald “Ron” Lee Horst was born on August 16, 1949, in Waynesboro, PA to Irvin and Madalyn (Miles) Horst.

A visitation will be held from 5:00 – 8:00 pm at Stevens Memorial Chapel (607 28th St., Ames, Iowa 50010) on Friday, May 31, 2019. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 am at St. Cecilia Catholic Church (2900 Hoover Ave. Ames, Iowa 50010) on Saturday, June 1, 2019. Burial will follow services in the Ames Municipal Cemetery.

Ron grew up on a dairy farm in West Virginia where he learned the value of hard work that would continue to serve him for the rest of his life. Upon graduating from Hedgesville High School in 1967, he began his undergraduate degree at West Virginia University, where he majored in Dairy Science and played football for the Mountaineers for a year under Bobby Bowden. He went on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison graduating with a PhD in Biochemistry and Dairy Science. It was during his time at the University of Wisconsin as a research assistant that he met the love of his life, Marina “Myke” Fitzsimmons. Ron and Marina met in 1971 and married in 1973; they were blessed with three daughters, Jaime (1978), Emily (1979), and Anna (1986). In 1977, Ron and a pregnant Marina moved to Huxley, Iowa to accept a federal position at the National Animal Disease Center.

Ron above all else was a family man and a silly Dad who loved nothing more than spending time with his kids and grandkids. He took every chance he had to spend time with them, whether it was having outdoor adventures, traveling to Idaho and exploring the Teton Reserve where they would collect golf balls, practice driving his golf cart, and hit balls at the driving range. Ron also loved attending Packer’s games, and relaxing with marshmallows around a bonfire.

Ron enjoyed wood working and creating memorable gifts for his daughters and grandchildren. He would spend countless hours in his woodshop learning alternative types of woodworking and bringing them to life. Ron was a scientist through and through.

Ron will be remembered by those who knew him personally for his calm demeanor and quick wit; he will be remembered professionally for his contributions to medical and veterinary research. Starting in 1977, Ron worked at the National Animal Disease Center, USDA in Ames, IA where he pioneered new methods for measuring vitamin D metabolites and elaborated the physiological role of vitamin D in health of animals and man. These studies led to the development of means to prevent milk fever in cows, rickets in pigs and poultry, and aided human researchers working on bone diseases. During his tenure at NADC, Ron served as Research Leader of the Metabolic Diseases and Immunology group and eventually became Center Director. Ron won the first established USDA Scientist of the Year award in 1983, the Presidential Meritorious Senior Professional award in 2006, the ARS Science Hall of Fame award in 2010, and many other American Dairy Science Association awards, along with the Spencer Award in Chemistry in 2016. In 2007, Ron retired from the USDA and took over the analytical process of his co-founded company, Heartland Assays, that analyzes serum and food vitamin D content, commercially. He was also a co-owner of GlycoMyr, a company formed to investigate the use of novel vitamin D compounds he had synthesized for diseases such as colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

Ron was preceded in death by his parents, Irvin and Madalyn Horst; and his niece, Pamela Horst. He is survived by his wife, Marina “Myke” Horst of Ames; daughters, Jaime (Matt) Wandling and Emily (Jacob) Thom of Ames, Anna Horst of Camarillo, CA; grandsons, Troy and Reid Wandling of Ames and Aiden and Marshall Bybee of Camarillo, CA; and many nieces and nephews, especially Dana (Klint, Kole, Paisley) Stagner, of Cadiz, Ky, and Stacy (Jay, Kylie) Heisig of Ames.

Memorial contributions can be made in Ron’s name to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, or the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Rochester, MN.


  • Irvin Horst, Father
  • Madalyn Horst, Mother
  • Marina "Myke" Horst, Wife
  • Jaime Wandling, Daughter
  • Emily Thom, Daughter
  • Anna Horst, Daughter
  • Troy Wandling, Grandchild
  • Reid Wandling, Grandchild
  • Aiden Bybee, Grandchild
  • Marshall Bybee, Grandchild
  • Many nieces and nephews, especially Dana (Klint, Kole, Paisley) Stagner, of Cadiz, Ky, and Stacy (Jay, Kylie) Heisig of Ames.

  • Matthew Wandling, Active
  • Jacob Thom, Active
  • Jesse Goff, Active
  • Nicholas Koszewski, Active
  • Bruce Hollis, Active
  • Joseph Napoli, Active
  • Randy Horst, Active
  • Robert Horst, Active
  • Troy Wandling, Honorary
  • Reid Wandling, Honorary
  • Aiden Bybee, Honorary
  • Marshall Bybee, Honorary
  • Kole Stagner, Honorary
  • Kylie Heisig, Honorary
  • Paisley Stagner, Honorary


  • Visitation Friday, May 31, 2019
  • Funeral Mass Saturday, June 1, 2019


Ronald (Ron) Lee Horst

have a memory or condolence to add?

Liz McGonigle

June 3, 2019

I was lucky enough to have Ron in my life and have always considered him like a second dad. From days of him coaching our little league softball team, to letting us pesky girls tag along on the weekend to bleed a calf, to tailgating at cyclone football games. They are all memories I will treasure forever. Thank you for being a kind, fun, generous and all around great man. You will be deeply missed by many.

Bethel Powers

June 1, 2019

The Horsts are some of the warmest people I know. This loss is going to be felt by a huge community who have felt that warmth firsthand. Much love from the Powers family

Mandy Allan

May 31, 2019

Ron had such a big heart, and was so warm and generous. I will always remember his easy smile and laugh, and his ability to put people at ease. And his neverending love for his family.

Myke, Jaime, Matt, Emily, Jake, Anna, & the boys - I'm keeping you all in my thoughts!

Sandy Goff

May 30, 2019

Ron was such a big part of our life. Jesse was his sidekick and partner for many years (certainly all the ones that I have known them!). Getting to know the group at NADC while they were still together was a privilege for me. I will always remember Ron singing to Meatloaf on the radio on our 8 hour drive across Texas! He was quick to laugh – even if it was at himself (even quicker when it was at Jesse!). I will miss his laugh and kind smile. As the song says “it's not what you take when you leave this world behind you, it's what you leave behind you when you go”. Ron has left a tremendous legacy through his science, his humanity, and his family. He definitely left this world a better place for having been here. He will live on forever in our hearts. My thoughts and prayers are with Myke, Jaime, Emily, Anna and all of his family. I hope you find peace in your memories of him.

Phillip Jardon

May 29, 2019

Ron was a great mentor and a great friend. He will be missed. Ron was my boss when I worked at NADC during veterinary school. I have many positive memories of working with and learning from Ron then and through the years since. A lot of science and a lot of life was discussed Friday afternoons at That Place.

I thought of Ron last Friday as I was using what he taught me about parathyroid hormone and vitamin D while I was working on a milk fever problem with a nutritionist. I wanted to give Ron a call and ask what he thought about the phosphorus levels.

Dr. E. Travis Littledike

May 29, 2019

Travis has known Ron since they were young researchers in Iowa and though Travis has lived in northern Utah for some time now, Travis & Ron have gotten together over the phone and in person on their numerous visits to the Victor/Jackson area. Travis was very fond of Ron and often has shared memories of the many professional and private experiences they have enjoyed together over the years. Ron was a very close and important person in Travis' life and visa versa. It was a pleasure to be with them when they got together and spoke of old times. We shall dearly miss Ron and the main reason is because every time we saw him, he oozed with personal and congenial interest in us and what was happening in our lives. He participated in our lives with us and Travis found him so genuine that he never ever paused concerning their love for and respect of one another....Off to Heaven you go, Ron Hurst! We shall miss you dearly. Travis Littledike & Elizabeth Taggart, husband and wife

Edith Fitzsimmons

May 28, 2019

Ron was a cherished family treasure - he has been my brother-in-law for the majority of my life (about 45 years) - I was the youngest of Marina's family. I have thousands of memories of Ron at family gatherings and at his home in Ames. I was so proud of his vast collection of professional accomplishments - his intelligence knew no limits. Where I was especially blessed was having him as part of our family - he was a brother-in-law dream come true. A gentleman who totally respected others and spoke with thoughtful and non-judgement words. I cannot put into words what my heart felt when he would glance into my sister's eyes with pure love and adoration and she would return the look - that is deeply etched into my memory. They were two souls connected at a spiritual level - a union made from true love, commitment and loyalty. My other favorite memories are those of how he adored his three beautiful daughters and the many family travel adventures they enjoyed as children and later as adults with their own children (his cherished four grandsons). I was the blessed and lucky little sister-in-law that reaped all the benefits of having such an honorable, generous, kind, courageous and loving man in my life. I cannot be more grateful to you Ron - you have a special place in my heart forever - thank you for being in my life and the lives of millions of people who were touched by your grace.

Bianca Zaffarano

May 28, 2019

I will always remember Ron for his sparkling eyes and quick laugh . He and Mike were always gracious company, welcoming and generous. Even while enjoying the myriad of wild birds on his back porch his inquisitive mind was always working - and sense of humor shone through.
It was a privilege to know him; He has left huge shoes to fill and I wish you all comfort in feeling the magnitude of his love for you in the days, weeks and months ahead. Thank you for sharing your husband, father, grandfather, brother, with us. He left a wonderful legacy.

Michael Reger

May 28, 2019

Dana Stagner

May 27, 2019

Those we love dont go away,
they walk beside us everyday,
unseen, unheard but always near,
still loved, still missed and very dear.
How very blessed we are to have had this amazing man be so much a part of our journey. ❤