By Cheryl Duxbury
As Ron Socha and I sit over coffee in my office and discuss his upcoming retirement, I find myself a little nostalgic at the thought of losing such a valued and dedicated member of our department. Ron will officially retire in December 2012 and he has witnessed many changes both within the department and at the University level.
Ron was born in Hamilton where he attended high school obtaining his Grade 13. It is interesting to note that though he applied to colleges and universities in the area (Waterloo being one of those) he was unsure about what area of study to pursue. Any thoughts of higher education would have to wait due to an unfortunate accident that occurred in the summer after Ron graduated high school. He had to delay any future plans while he took a year to rehabilitate and re-coupe. This misfortune actually solidified Ron’s resolve to attend university.
In the fall of 1969, Ron was accepted as an undergraduate to the Department of Biology at the University of Waterloo where he specialized in the fields of microbiology and physiology. Over the next four years, Ron was extensively involved in extracurricular activities with the Science Society where he worked his way up to treasurer. So how did it come about that Ron would join the Department of Biology as an employee?
In the summer of 1973, Ron received a call from Dr. Kempton (a faculty member in Biology) who offered him a full time position in Botany. The person who had held this placement had departed suddenly which left the department without a suitable person to provide technical support to the first year botany lab. With no experience in this area, Ron rose to the challenge and became involved in courses that ranged from botany, mycology, and maintenance of cultures for phycology labs. Over the years, he has diversified to maintaining and crossing drosophila, and setting up histology, toxicology and his real passion, microbiology labs.
In 1974, Ron met Vicky who was the undergraduate secretary for the Department of Biology. Vicky had just started with the department and Ron invited her up to his office for coffee. After numerous coffee breaks and departmental social events together, Ron and Vicky wed in March of 1975 during a snow storm. They eventually moved to their permanent residence in Lakeshore where they raised their two boys, Tyler and Nicolas. After 37 years of marriage, Ron and Vicky share many of the same interests. Both have a passion for gardening and Ron is looking forward to retirement when he can spend more time with Vicky going on day trips to various nurseries to “muck about” as Ron calls it. Over the years, Ron has had various pursuits including stamp collecting and ceramics. The first piece of ceramic that Ron and Vicky made is still on display in their house.
When Ron retires, he is looking forward to taking long walks with their German short-haired pointer, Delco. He is also hoping to volunteer with various organizations such as the food bank and has plans for many renovations around the house. In addition, Ron has always wanted to have more time to pursue photography.
Ron’s 39 years of experience, helpful attitude, willingness to extend himself, and familiar face will be missed by all in the Department of Biology who have had the pleasure of interacting with him over the years.