Ron was born on August 7, 1934, and became interested in Lepidoptera at age six upon finding a freshly emerged luna moth in the backyard of his Michigan home. He stated his intent to update Holland’s “Moth Book” as a ninth grader. He received his BS degree in 1956 and his MS degree in 1957 from Michigan State University, where he was strongly influenced by Roland Fischer. He went to Cornell University to work with John Franclemont. During this period he did extensive field work in New York, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, and Ecuador. He became deeply interested in the microlepidoptera, particularly the Gelechioidea, and was awarded a PhD degree in 1961. He received a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship and commenced to work on genera of Gelechiidae. This project was interrupted when he accepted a position with the Systematic Entomology Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service located in the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. He had several roles in the Laboratory, including laboratory chief. He stepped down from this position to continue field and laboratory research on gelechioid moths. He retired in January 1997 and moved to Eugene, Oregon.
He became involved with The Moths of America North of Mexico project in its preliminary stages in 1969. This project will for the first time present a taxonomic/systematic survey of the estimated 16,000+ species of moths that occur in America north of Mexico. It is projected to require 130 volumes. Since then, he has written volumes on Oecophoridae, Cosmopterigidae, and Gelechiidae, Dichomeridinae and Gelechiinae, and the genus Chionodes which collectively treat 709 species, including 217 that were new to science. He was responsible for the Check List of the Lepidoptera of America North of Mexico that appeared in 1983. He was managing director of the Wedge Entomological Research Foundation that publishes the series and was editor-in-chief of the publications.
He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association for Zoological Nomenclature (president 1993-95), American Entomological Society, Entomological Society of America, Entomological Society of Canada, Entomological Society of Ontario, Entomological Society of Washington (honorary member, 1999), Michigan Entomological Society, the Lepidoptera Research Foundation, the Lepidopterists’ Society (president 1975-76), Maryland Entomological Society (president 1973-74), Ohio Lepidopterists, Northwest Lepidoptera Society, Sigma Xi, and Societas Europaea Lepidopterologica.
He received the Thomas Say Award from the Entomological Society of America for his editorial oversight of Moths of North America in 1990, the Karl Jordan Medal from the Lepidopterists’ Society for research on gelechioid moths in 1997, and he was elected an honorary member of the Entomological Society of Washington in 1999.
Ron was active until retirement in the Washington Biologists’ Field Club since being elected in 1963. He was president from 1976 to 1979 and participated on various committees and work and field days. He was for many years the lead cook in the kitchen.
Ron and his wife Elaine retired near Eugene, Oregon, where he has continued to work on moths (an illustrated, annotated key to genera of North American Gelechiidae) and to edit and publish The Moths of America North of Mexico. Gardening with a highly diverse array of plants and developing and maintaining a collection of mainly pleurothallidine orchids also have interested him in retirement.
Ron died on December 10, 2017.