Time for another life story, this one about an unassuming gentleman, one of our 3.0 tennis players -
Ron was born in Minneapolis and has spent his life in that area. He now lives, with his wife Lorraine, on Weaver lake in Maple Grove, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis in a house they built together 49 years ago.
Ron graduated from Patrick Henry high school in Minneapolis and was a standout athlete from his early years. While still in high school he and his brother Bob were caddies at a local golf course and, in fact, Bob went on to win many state championships, eventually becoming a golf professional. Ron was torn between his love of sports and other interesting outlets, as you will soon learn.
While in high school, Ron was on the cross country running team, and the tennis team, where in fact he was elected captain of the tennis team in his senior year. He also played various intramural high school sports, such as basketball.
Upon graduation, the workplace beckoned and Ron decided to forego College and go directly into the work force. He was hired by Northern Ordinance in Minneapolis, a sub-contractor to the US Navy, who built five inch gun mounts and terrier guided missile launchers as well as submarine torpedo launching tubes. In 1956 Ron was working in the printshop where he learned the printing trade. He soon was hired by Ambassador Press as a lithographer and spent 33 years there before retiring with a union pension.
Ron met his wife Lorraine, a South Dakota girl, at a bar/dance hall called the "26" club , which was across the street from the apartment where Lorraine was rooming with seven other girls. At first she was dating one of Ron's friends, when Ron met her they started dating. Lorraine and Ron have been married 55 years and have two grown children - Shelley, who is 55 and has two boys & two girls, and Steve, 51, who has two boys and one girl. One grandson is in College in California, current doing a study semester in Germany and one granddaughter is working and living in New York, while the remaining five are within 10-15 miles of Ron & Lorraine.
Ron has had a variety of interests over the years - he bowled in leagues for 45 years and played table tennis for a long time, in fact he came in second 3 times in men's doubles table tennis here in the Cal-Am Tournament, He also played horseshoes over the years, but one of his great passions was waterskiing. Ron & Lorraine bought a place on Weaver lake so he could pursue this sport.He competed in slalom and jumping but his real interest was trick skiing. Ron belonged to a waterski club and was involved in competitions and exhibitions all over the state. He could do 360 degrees turns on a ladder mounted on a saucer like disc while being pulled behind a boat! As a result of his passion, both his children took up waterskiing and snow skiing.
Another of Ron's interest is Astronomy. He was part of the Minnesota Astronomical Society where they had stargazing parties with an eight inch Celestron and a motor drive. These days everything is computerized, but at one time he did a lot of Astro photography with his telescope. He bought a telescope with an 8 inch mirror, for $20 at "Goodwill" in Apache Junction, that he has here in his park model. He has taken lots of photos of the lunar eclipse and at one time toyed with the idea of becoming a comet hunter. If you discover a new comet, they name it after you! (There are lots of comets with Japanese names - the Japanese are avid star gazers.)
Ron is an avid photographer and sells his photos at artistic talent club sales.
Ron also pursued an interest in remote controlled airplanes for 5 or 6 years, back in the days when you built your own plane from scratch and the motors were gas powered. Now electric planes are more prevalent as they are much quieter in residential areas. These planes would do up to 200 MPH at 21000 RPM. They would race 10 laps, four planes at a time, 50 feet above the ground around pilons on towers… needless to say a crash was catastrophic, but the whole experience was exhilarating!
Ron and Lorraine own a 67 and a 69 Corvair that have won state and national trophies at car shows.
He and Lorraine first came to Arizona while pursuing yet another interest - RV Camping. It was at a campground in Surprise, AZ nine years ago that he first got hooked on Pickleball. (Finally you say -this dottering old writer gets to the heart of the story!) Ron got so hooked on this sport that he was practising and playing 2-3 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. As his skill and passion for the game grew, he started to enter tournaments. He knew that the 2015 USA Senior games were to be held in Minneapolis and that he had to qualify regionally in 2014. His problem was finding a partner but by a lucky fluke, a friend knew of a woman (Lillian Palmer from Texas) in Ron's age category that needed a competent partner and she happened to be visiting friends in Minneapolis so they were able to practise together. They won the gold medal in the 2014 state championship, qualifying for the 2015 National championship. Ron also paired with John Olsen from southern Minnesota to win gold in Pickleball and bronze in doubles tennis and - unbelievably - he also won gold in singles Pickleball! And silver in singles tennis. Singles pickleball is only played at the state and national level. He competes in two different organizations - the USAP (USA Pickleball Association) and the National Senior Games which encompasses many different sports.
Ron's accomplishments in the Seniors Games and USAPA are so fantastic that I've compiled them below.
In 2014 USAPA nationals at Sun City Festival Ron won silver medal in singles pickleball 75-79.
In 2015 at the Minnesota State senior games, in his age group, Ron won :
- Silver in men's singles Pickleball
- Gold in men's doubles.
-bronze in mixed doubles
- Gold in men's singles Tennis
In 2015 at the National Senior Games in Mpls he pulled a quad muscle in his second match after winning his first match in tennis singles he had to forgo tennis, but went on to win a silver medal in mixed doubles pickleball with Lillian Palmer age 75-79
In 2016 state senior games Ron won 3 gold 1 silver and 1 bronze in pickleball and tennis
In 2017 National Senior Games in Birmingham Al. Ron won first match, lost second match in singles tennis 80-84 32 in draw.
He won - Silver in men's doubles pickleball (with Jack Warner who had developed double pneumonia and wound up in a coma earlier that year and who was still quite weak).
- Gold in mixed doubles (with Lillian Palmer)
- Ron also won a 4th place ribbon out of 12 in the draw for singles pickleball.
There were 11,000 participants in 19 sports in these games, 900 in pickleball alone.
In 2017 USAPA nationals in Casa Grande in Nov. Ron won Gold medal with Jack Warner in men's doubles 80-84 4.0-4.5 a bronze medal with Nancy Harvey mixed doubles 75-79 3.5. A silver medal in singles 80-84 3.5 Lillian, Jack and Ron will be trying to qualify in 2018 for 2019 National Senior Games in Albuquerque New Mexico.
Over the last 4 years Ron has won 20 gold, 13 silver and 11 bronze medals in pickleball, tennis and table tennis in National, State and local tournaments.
One has to appreciate that when your partner lives a long way away, you don't get to practice together which can be a detriment one would think.
Everyone here, and back home as well I'm sure, is proud of you Ron. Well done and here's looking to cheering you on for many more winning years.