Ronald O Ragsdale
December 10, 1932 – January 16, 2020
Ron Ragsdale passed away unexpectedly on January 16 at his home in Draper, Utah.
Ron was born in Boise, Idaho on December 10, 1932 to Frank and Louisa Ragsdale, ten minutes later, his twin brother Donald was born. After returning from his LDS mission to South Africa, Ron attended BYU where he met the love of his life, Eileen Morse. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on December 12, 1956, and have been blessed with five children, 15 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren. After graduating from BYU, they went to Illinois where Ron received his PhD in inorganic chemistry from the University of Illinois, then to New Jersey for three years as a research chemist. Next he embarked upon a 49-year career as a chemistry professor at the University of Utah. Ron had a passion for education and teaching, and he loved the University. He was a Ute through and through. In addition to teaching general chemistry to more than 50,000 undergraduate students, 4,000 high school students, 2,000 summer enrichment students, and mentoring 100+ high school chemistry teachers, he authored more than 100 publications in research and education. His career accomplishments are numerous and legendary. He has been honored by international, national, state, university, college, and departmental awards. His leadership brought the International Baccalaureate program to the U.S. where he was the first American to serve as its Chief Examiner in Chemistry. He was also Chief Examiner for the Advanced Placement program for Chemistry. He originated the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad, a chemistry competition for high school students that involves over 17,000 students from 76 countries. Ron believed in giving back. He and Eileen founded the Ragsdale Scholarship Endowment Fund that provides scholarship support and teaching awards, allowing the Ragsdale tradition of excellence in teaching chemistry to continue. Ron was well known for his annual Faraday Christmas lectures, an explosive, action-packed demonstration featuring chemical reactions and experiments. Dressed as a 19th century chemist in top hat and tuxedo, he educated and entertained audiences of all ages. His Faraday lectures became the most anticipated and well attended lecture series on campus. While teaching workshops throughout the world, Ron developed a love for travel and adventure. His journeys include most every U.S. state and well over 100 countries. Some highlights were trout fishing in New Zealand, exploring ancient ruins in Ephesus, Peru and Mexico, floating in the Dead Sea, and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro at age 72. Always up before sunrise, Ron made the most of each day. He enjoyed being active, loved sports and competition, whether it was playing tennis 3-4 times a week well into his 80’s, weekly ward basketball games, or cheering on his beloved Utes during a football game. He served faithfully in his church all his life, one of his favorite callings was team teaching Gospel Doctrine class with Eileen. He appreciated fine art and reveled in collecting the Old Masters, especially Rembrandt and Durer. Most of all he loved his family and was extremely proud of their accomplishments. He was always there to support them, whether it be financial, spiritual, or a just a shoulder to cry on. Ron’s passing has left an incredible void in the lives of many, but also a legacy of living life to the fullest. He leaves behind his loving wife and constant companion of 63 years, Eileen, three children, Krista Nielson, Steven (Naomi), and Janice, along with 15 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren and two sisters. He was preceded in death by his three brothers, son Jeffrey and daughter Sandi Thomas. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, January 23 at 11:00 a.m. at the Suncrest 3rd Ward Chapel, 14977 S. Round Tree Lane, Draper, Utah. Viewings will be held at the same location on Wednesday, January 22 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. and Thursday prior to the service from 10:00-10:45 a.m. Interment will be held at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park.
- Eileen Ragsdale, Wife
- Krista Nielson, Daughter
- Steven (Naomi) Ragsdale, Son
- Janice Ragsdale, Daughter
- Ron leaves behind 15 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren and two sisters
- Cole Castleton, Pallbearer
- Chase Nielson, Pallbearer
- Jay Nielson, Pallbearer
- Eric Nielson, Pallbearer
- Tony Nielson, Pallbearer
- Stevie Ragsdale, Pallbearer
- Zach Ragsdale, Pallbearer
- Lukas Ragsdale, Pallbearer
- Steven Ragsdale, Honorary Pallbearer
- Colton Twitchell, Honorary Pallbearer
- David Thole, Honorary Pallbearer
- Viewing Wednesday, January 22, 2020
- Viewing Prior to Funeral Service Thursday, January 23, 2020
- Funeral Services Thursday, January 23, 2020
Ronald O Ragsdale
February 6, 2020
My condolences to the family and friends of Professor Ragsdale. I had the privilege of learning so much from him. His legacy lives on in those with whom he shared his love of education and chemistry.
February 5, 2020
What a great man.
January 23, 2020
Although unable to attend the funeral, I want to share my love and condolences to Aunt Eileen, and family. We have thoroughly enjoyed our travel adventures with Aunt Eileen and Uncle 'Favorite'! We built so many great memories on road trips through beautiful Yosemite, the Redwoods (esp. the Skunk Train), Canada, Glacier Park, Niagra Falls, and Palmtra, Nauvoo and the LDS Church history sites. The train excursions and exploration of three cities in eastern Europe was EPIC! Thanks for the great memories, we will miss you until we meet again!
January 22, 2020
Long before there was PowerPoint, there was Ragsdale in front of his classroom with his overhead projector and even more importantly performing numerous demonstrations illustrating chemical concepts. I would not be surprised if he somehow shared his signature flame tests during the service or at least with St. Peter!
As a colleague in the chemistry department, I was fortunate to collaborate with Ron on projects in chemical education and benefitted from his willingness to share how to do it right. Ron created the “Faraday Tradition” at Utah and I am proud to be part of the team that continues this legacy of science outreach.
January 21, 2020
I had the pleasure of working closely with Ron during my time as manager of the chemistry department. He was always quick with a joke to brighten my day and I enjoyed teasing him about wearing his tennis shorts "at the office". He was devoted to his students and relished the fun times he had with the Faraday Lectures which introduced the fascinating world of chemistry to young minds.
My sincere condolences on your loss.
January 21, 2020
Dear Ragsdale family,
We want to thank you for sharing your amazing father with us. We were blessed to learn from him in both our college careers and also at his amazing Faraday lectures. His lectures were some of our favorite December activities on campus with our young children. They were always so excited and amazed when he threw the football at the wall and it would shatter. And we still have his coin that he turned into “gold” among our family mementos that he gave to our young son ( who took it for show and tell the next week to share his enthusiasm for the Faraday lectures with his class).
We are ever grateful for his enthusiasm and kindness in sharing his passion for chemistry with our family and thousands of others!
Ryan and Danette Wright and family
January 21, 2020
I was Ron's secretary for over 20 years and truly respected his sincere commitment to teaching and his students. I will never forget working for him and the experience I gained.
My condolences to Eileen, Krista, Janice, and Steve.
January 21, 2020
Professor Ragsdale was a magnificent teacher....I took his class at the age of 35, and fell in love with chemistry and science. His wit and profound knowledge, coupled with an ability to explain to those of us who were unskilled scientifically, was legendary. Thank you Professor for all your service to us.
January 20, 2020
Ron was a close friend and colleague since 1971 when I joined the faculty. He and Dave Grant took me on my first ever backpack trip to King's Peak and Ron and I winter camped, Wind River backpacked, played basketball and shared chemistry education experiences many times. I expect I'll hear from him when I am on my next outing to the mountains.
Safe travels, ROR (this is what I always called him), Jack
January 20, 2020
My sincere condolences to Eileen and the family. I have had the privilege of getting to know Ron and Eileen for the last year and they have shown me friendship and mentoring as we have worked together at SyberJet Aircraft. It was so nice to have a kindred Ute fan as well as listen to all the marvelous stories of their travels and support of so many people throughout their years. Ron will be missed by so many and I want the family to recognize how their contributions have blessed so many lives, even one like mine who has only known them for a short while.