Archive for December 22nd, 2019

Ron Vickroy

December 22nd, 2019


I’ve written several of these tributes over the past decade and a half, but this one has been one of my most emotionally challenging.

The first time I met Ron Vickroy, he was a board member of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, and I was a candidate for the position of President/CEO of that organization. He was working as the head of marketing for Crown American, and although he was a few years younger than me, I recognized immediately that his gifts were superior to not only his age but also to those of his peers.

I got that job, and Ron became my boss. I latched on to him as a mentor, a teacher, and quickly as a friend. Ron had one of the most fertile minds I had ever encountered. Yes, he had graduated first in his class from the Air Force Academy, and then went through the prestigious GSIA School at Carnegie Mellon University, but there was much more to Ron than IQ/EQ/QPA or any other intellectual marker. He was a compassionate, committed, community-minded leader with a nearly zero focus on materialism.

When you think about movies like “All The Right Stuff,” that’s what Ron had. After my Laurel Highlands experience, I was recruited to a VP position at the former Mercy Hospital in Johnstown and had an opportunity to recommend Ron as a member of the Foundation Board of Directors. By then Ron had made the decision to forgo his higher paying marketing job and begin work as a business professor at UPJ.
His talent was quickly recognized, and he was recruited onto the Hospital Board of Director where he served until he transitioned to the Conemaugh Board of Directors. This is where he literally found a home and served for pretty much the remainder of his life.

Ron also found his love in teaching, and no matter when you met his students, the description of his talent, dedication, knowledge, but most importantly his inspiration was their focus. Ron was not only an amazing person, a brilliant and creative individual, he was also the best of the best as an instructor, a mentor, and a leader for his students.

Besides a vacation with he and his wife, Donna, to Aruba, my fondest memories of Ron were brain-storming meetings in his family room. He filled me with hope, excitement, and commitment to progress.

There was only one exception to this. I had attempted to take up golfing in my 40’s. Ron was a scratch golfer and sometimes tolerated my presence on the golf course.

Once after a particularly awful round, I turned to him in complete frustration and asked, “Ron, do you think I’ll ever be a great golfer.”  Knowing full-well that my passion and expertise had been in music, he said, “Let me ask you, Nick, if I took up trumpet right now, would I ever be any good?”  I gave my clubs away after that game and never regretted that decision one time!

Let me close by saying there was no better board member, teacher, mentor, friend, or human being than Ron Vickroy.


Love ya, man.