In memory: Ronald E. Wisner

Ron Wisner, dean of students at UCCS from 1979 to 2003, died Friday, May 21 in a mountain bike accident in an open trails area between Monument and Castle Rock, according to family members.

Following his retirement from UCCS, Ron served as an instructor for the Semester at Sea Program and recently rejoined the university on a part-time appointment to assist with student affairs.

Memorial arrangements are pending. The obituary, as prepared by family, follows.

Ronald E. Wisner, born June 18, 1942, adored husband, father, grandfather, brother, and uncle, died May 21, 2010.

Ron led a full and adventurous life. Born in Upper Sandusky, OH, he graduated from Wittenberg University and joined the newly created Peace Corps to teach agricultural practices to farmers in Niger, West Africa. From this experience a lifelong love of world travel and interest in exploring cultures was born.

After his return from Africa Ron attended Michigan State, where he met Jane Haven. After a six-month courtship, they married. Ron received his Masters from Michigan State and began his career at UM-Flint as Assistant Dean for Student Services.  Ron and Jane welcomed Sara and Mark into the world, and moved their family west for Ron to accept a position at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs as Dean for Student Life and to enjoy a sport-filled lifestyle. At UCCS, Ron also served posts as Executive Director of Student Affairs and Dean of Students. Concurrently with his academic positions and in between running marathons, skiing Colorado’s resorts, and living life to the fullest, Ron achieved his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.  A Fulbright Scholar, he was as intelligent as he was lovable.

Ron and Jane were exemplary models for retired life. They spent a year teaching in Copenhagen, Denmark, twice travelled around the world as staff of the Semester at Sea program, and embarked on cycling, skiing, and hiking trips with family and friends. Ron was a serial volunteer, giving of his time and talents to the Pikes Peak Marathon, Garden of the Gods running club, US Olympic Committee, Vail Music Festival, Pike’s Peak Library, Tri-Lakes Transportation Services for Seniors, and Citizen’s Project. He served as a board member of the Karen Possehl Endowment for Non-Traditional Women’s Scholarships, the UCCS Chancellor’s Leadership Class, the Pikes Peak Area Peace Corps Alumni, and his latest passion, the Kids on Bikes project.

Ron never met a dessert or beer he didn’t enjoy. Scheduled to the maximum, above all else family came first in his heart and calendar.

A campus memorial service is scheduled for 3:30p.m. June 28 on the third floor of the Kraemer Family Library. Jane Wisner will attend the service and represent the family. Those interested in speaking at the service are asked to contact the Office of the Chancellor by phone, 255-3436, or email, [email protected].

Family and community memorial services were held May 28  at Hillside Gardens, 1006  S. Institute St. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Kids on Bikes, 600 South 21st Street, Suite 100, Colorado Springs, CO 80904.

26 Comments on In memory: Ronald E. Wisner

  1. I have known Ron first as a patient who was exemplary in his motivation for an active and healthy lifestyle and in the last few years as a role model for how to live in “retirement”. The Kids on Bikes is a fitting memorial to this exceptional man…..

  2. I had the pleasure of working with Ron as a volunteer with Team USA during the Vancouver Winter Games this year. From the day we met, Ron was encouraging, supportive and always prepared to lend a hand, especially to newbies like myself who had flown in from Singapore to volunter for the 1st time. He was passionate about sports and even more so to do his part in ensuring that all the USA Team athletes who came through Team Processing were given an “Experience of a Lifetime”. Ron’s warmth and friendship continued even after I returned home through emails. His positive attitude for life is an inspiration for me and I will certainly miss him. My prayers to Jane and his family.

  3. As I was leaving for California, I was shocked to hear of Ron’s passing. I worked at UCCS from 1985 to 1989 in the Budget Office. Ron and I had long talks, orienting a retired military officer to academia. His kind, thoughful remarks always stayed with me and I always felt Ron was truely “one of the good guys” in this world. RIP. Piff.

  4. I had the pleasure of meeting Ron while he was donating his time ushering for one of our New York Philharmonic concerts in Vail. He was introduced to me by my parents, Ed and Mary Nuccio, with a wonderful introduction that served him accurately. Although our conversations throughout the past few years were never long enough, it was my honor to meet Ron. It is always too soon but if it were to happen to me, I would want to be taken to heaven doing what I love! Ron– as a fellow mtn biker, enjoy all the perfect trails in heaven and we will make sure to ride together when I get there! Your friend, Mark Nuccio (NY Philharmonic clarinetist)

  5. I am saddened to learn of Ron’s passing. I will always remember Ron as a man who loved life and the out of doors. I remember a run we did in Garden of the Gods many years ago. Bart Yasso was in town and Ron was so excited to meet the author of “Yasso 800’s.” I last saw Ron at Bob McAndrews’ birthday celebration in November. It was a wonderful gathering and a time to be with friends and share running and adventures. My heart goes out to Ron’s family.

  6. I was a student at the University of Michigan – Flint in the mid-seventies. Ron always had time for my questions and thoughts. His positive, “can do” attitude was contagious. You truly embodied a Michigan Man – “Leaders and Best”.

    People like Ron will always be missed but their legacy will endure.

    Condolences to his family who’s loss cannot be imagined.

    God Speed, Ron.

  7. I got the honor of working with Ron on Semester At Sea- he hired me along with a staff of 6 and we sailed around the world in the fall of ’04 with Ron and Jane. What an amazing adventure! Ron was a kind, loving and supportive friend and supervisor to all of us. I feel so blessed to have him in my life- even with his passing I will remember many things he said to me and our time with Ron and Jane. They always made us feel like extended family! What a joy to have Ron and Jane in our lives. I’ll miss you Ron!

  8. Ron was my hero! We worked together at UM-Flint from 1970 to 1978. We were both young professionals when we met and we remained good friends for all of these many years. My wife Jan and I have two children that are the same age as Ron and Jane’s. We enjoyed their family so much. I have many fond memories of all of us being together in Michigan and Colorado. My heart goes out to Jane , Sarah and Mark. Ron was truly one of the finest human beings that I have ever known. I will miss hearing his voice and laughter. He was the best ! Blessings and Peace to Jane and the family.

  9. My thoughts and prayers to Ron’s family at this time. Ron was a great advisor to my husband and I when we were students at UCCS in the 1990s. My husband Jeff worked in the the Student Life office for Ron and we both were involved in Student Government. Ron was dedicated to us – in turn, he helped us dedicate ourselves to the campus community. I am grateful to have known him and we will never forget who he was.

  10. Ron, lived life to the fullest and very sorry to see him go but knowing Ron he lived life with such passion and at least he was able to pass into the next world doing something he liked doing. Ron, always had time for students, employees and for me a few times…thanks Ron. I know your family will miss you dearly!

  11. Ron was a pillar of kindness and caring during the time I knew him. He knew how to build people up and make others feel welcomed. I don’t remember many people in any setting that I have enjoyed more than Ron Wisner.

    You have made a considerable mark on my life Ron, well done.

  12. Der Jane:

    I was shocked when I heard of Ron’s passing. You and your family will be in my prayers as you mourn and also celebrate his life. Please know I send my deepest sympathy. All of us at Semester at Sea will remember fondly His many contributions to the program.

  13. Ron and I were rooomates in East Shaw as we began our Grad school adventure in Student Affairs. He’s one of the finest people anyone could ever know. Jane is also very special–we have very fond memories of our time at MSU together. Though we kept in touch over the years, and often roomed together at conferences with our mutual close friend Ross Fraser, there is never enough time to share one’s life with such a wonderful person as Ron. I will miss him terribly and not being able to see my friend again makes me very sad. My love to Jane, Sarah and Mark–your best friend and dad will be a part of many lives for a long time.

  14. I had the pleasure of meeting Dean Wisner at UCCS. I was able to get to know him during my experience with student government. He was a trusted advisor and a remarkable man. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  15. I was saddened to hear of Ron’s sudden and untimely death. I will always remember and appreciate our friendship and professional working relationship. He will always have a special place in my life because he gave me one of my greatest career opportunities when he hired me as the Director of the University Center in 1988, which was my first director’s job. He was one of the greatest student advocates that I’ve ever had the privilege of working with or for. His insightful wisdom and commitment to students is something that I continue to use everyday in my current position at the University of Maryland. My thoughts and prayers are with Jane and the entire Wisner family.

  16. I was shocked and saddened to hear of Ron’s recent passing from this life. He was filled with such energy and enthusiasm and just plain goodness, that I just loved to be with him or around him. I was a student at UM-Flint during the late 1960’s and worked with him from 1972 to 1979.

    I can still remember the trip we took with 2 other colleagues (Joe Roberson and Chuck Rickard) to Colorado. I can see why he decided to make that his home. Beautiful country that perfectly matched his love of the outdoors, biking, running, hiking, skiing. I can still remember the smile on his face when we were going through Coors Brewery and his enjoyment of the free samples.

    He was indeed a special human being. It is sad but he is now using his wonderful skills and personality in heaven. May God bless and comfort you, Jane, as you go on. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  17. I am saddened to hear of Ron’s unfortunate accident. Ron was the chair of the search committee that hired me to work at UM-Flint at UM-Flint to have the privilege of opening the University Center which Ron had a very important and in developing. He was always supportive and his time was your time. My most sincere thoughts and prayers go out to Jane, Mark, Sara and the entire family.

  18. When I heard of Ron’s unfortunate accident I was first in shock and then a sadness came over me. Ron was not only a scholar, a world traveler, a great cook and all those things he was to many, but Ron was also a very accepting person of all cultures. He wanted to know you the ‘person’ especially when it came to students both US and foreign. When I started working with the international students at UCCS, Ron was by far one of the most supportive individuals on campus and he immediately offered his expertise. Soon thereafter, we formed ISSAC (International Student Service Advisory Council) and many staff memebers joined later. ISSAC was formed to offer advice, assistance and support to our international students on campus. I will always be grateful for his enthusiasm in all students and he will truly be missed.

  19. My friend’s son was with Mr. Wisner and his wife on the trail when he passed. Each time I ride there I will be reminded that someone died there doing something they loved. After reading about him I can see that he was a good man that was very well like/loved.I am sorry for your loss.I have been riding that trail for the past 4 years and I can see how the accident could have happened. It saddens me to think that the trail has become more dangerous and people are getting hurt. My friend rode it the month before and fractured her wrist and her elbow, and lacerated her liver on that same downhill stretch when she hit a burm. Hopefully something can be done before there is another tragedy. My prayers are with your family. Linda Millard

  20. Ron was a rare gift to all blessed enough to know him. He was that rare gift to even more, who did not. A humble, selfless man, brilliant intellectually, beyond any pale in kindness, he lived his life without knowing his uplifting spirit, or his ethereal ideals, became lifelong gifts.
    Ron’s light illuminated my path, as have few others. I couldn’t let him know I saw him forever as a moral compass and humanitarian ideal. Even had I told him so, he would have looked down at his desk, blushed slightly, then turned to me with a shy grin, and spun my tale into one about me. Never one to readily tolerate compliments, I could see he found no fulfillment in them. His greatest joy it seemed, was giving himself; his mind, heart, time and his bottomless compassion to anyone, everyone, except Ron.
    When I plowed through his door with our latest hair brained plan concocted with fellow Co-Exec Michael Moran (’90-’91), Ron made us feel he had nothing better to do at exactly that moment. If our humor was an unpolished stone, Ron wielded a scalpel. He deftly saved us from ourselves, when we didn’t even know we needed saving.
    I left my career to stay at home with my baby girls. If I might edify my wonderful daughters over the course of my life with them, in all things decent, civil, gracious and kind, as Ron did for me, simply with the way he lived, my life will have been well spent. I know I can never be like him, but I’ll never stop trying.
    Ron’s given treasures live in who I am. So too shall Ron’s extraordinary life, his zippy chile nearly as good as mine, and any of his wisdom I know, become part of my children. Please offer heartfelt pride I hold for having known Ron, to Jane, Sara and Mark. Further let them know, I have re-christened my newest road bike, from “Brutus”, to “The Wiz”. For all Ron’s family and friends, an old Gaelic Eire blessing:

    May the road rise to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    the rain fall soft upon your fields.
    And until we meet again,
    may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

    Neart, Grá agus Onóir, my friend. Time for me to get out, and ride.
    Tom Hiatt, UCCS ’88-’91, Co-Exec w/Michael Moran ’90-’91
    University of Denver, JD ’94.

  21. We were so shocked to read of Ron’s passing. We knew Ron and Jane briefly as my wife and I shared a trip around the world on Semester at Sea with him and Jane. Ron was a friend and great travel companion. Ron was a benefit to the ship community and always a beacon of energy. I only wish I knew him longer. I hope Jane and his family can be comforted by the many lives he touched.

  22. I, too, only knew Ron briefly in sailing on the Semester at Sea Spring 2007 voyage, but I always remember seeing him in the hallways smiling and getting such a good “vibe” from him. I am inspired to read about how active he was in his life pursuing things he loved doing. My condolences to his family and loved ones. He is still around in spirit and always will be.

  23. My wife Fay and I were shocked to learn of Ron’s unusual death.

    I served with Ron on Dean’s Council during my tenure at UCCS from 1982 until 1987. It was a time of great transformation at UCCS. Ron was always a great supporter in terms of transforming UCCS into a research university.

    I had the pleasure later of touring the Student Center that Ron helped design. It’s a very impressive addition to the campus.

    Ron was a major contributor to the advsncement of UCCS. I’m so sorry to learn of the fatal accident. My wife Fay and I offer our prayers and sympathy to the family.

    Jim Tracey

  24. I had the privilege of knowing Ron on the Semester at Sea, Spring 07 journey where his spirit and rock solid foundation worked like having a favorite, smart, and kind uncle helping to direct the whole darn show from back stage and from the microphone where he kept us all oriented to time and place while we moved around the world, always moving in three dimensions. He was kind of like the personification of the fourth dimension–adjustable time–and by being strong and flexible he helped us all navigate that experience. Reading about the many dimensions of his life before and after that journey makes me smile and inspires me. Dear Jane, you two were such an intertwined force for good on that ship. I know that the children on the ship were guided through all the vagaries of young lives being lived in steady three-dimensional motion coupled with the remarkable learning experiences of our ports. What Ron did for the ship I think you did for those beautiful kids and I wished the whole time that my own two children would have been part of your entourage. With love and great respect, Mary Keller

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