Ronald R. Lilienthal

July 6, 1932 – January 21, 2021

Ronald R. Lilienthal, of Coos Bay and Woodburn, passed away at his home in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, on January 21, 2021.

Ron was born in North Bend, July 6, 1932, the second child of Hugo and Nell Lilienthal. He grew up on the Oregon Coast and was shaped by the sea and rugged landscape of the Bay Area.  He attended Charleston Elementary (when it was a 2-room schoolhouse with an outhouse) and graduated from North Bend High School, 1950.  After high school, he enlisted in the Navy, serving as a Corpsman and stationed on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. 

A first-generation college student, Ron earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon, a master’s degree from Oregon State University, and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University plus taking numerous courses at Portland State University and the University of Washington.  In addition to teaching, he pursued research and received National Science Foundation grants to study Radiation Biology at Cornell University, and Xylitol at Crown Zellerback.  His curiosity and love of learning drew him to a career in higher education. He was a natural teacher.

Ron was a founding member of the faculty at Southwestern Oregon Community College. He taught organic chemistry, general chemistry and zoology during his thirty-year career. Deeply committed to the community college mission, Ron found deep satisfaction helping his students attain their goals and expand their opportunities.  Referred to affectionately by many as “Doc,” he was known for his kindness and support of students.  Ron formed lifelong friendships with many of his colleagues at the college and continued through the Old-Timers group. Ron served the college and community in many ways, as Department Chair, Division Chair, as a Senator and President of the faculty senate, and as President of the Oregon Federation of Teachers.  His community service included working on the board of the college supported day care center.

Ron married the love of his life, Patricia “Pat”, his spouse of 61 years. They married in Seaside in 1959. The heart of the family, he is beloved by his children, Niki Young and Ron (Ninette) Lilienthal Jr.; grandchildren, Andrew, Benjamin and Christopher Young, Ryan, Nash and Caley Lilienthal; his brother, Dick (Verna) Lilienthal; nieces and nephews, Connie Kittrell, Rick Lilienthal and Lisa Peckham; his sisters-in-law to whom he was like a father, Nanci Moore, Molly (Barry) Reeves, Sally (Doug) Woodman; nieces and nephews, Mercedes (Clark) Moss, Meghan (Jacob) Gray, John and Taylor Reeves, Kylee Woodman.

Raised on the estuary and bay, Ron’s passions revolved around salmon fishing, clamming and crabbing. Holiday crab feeds were a family fixture and treasured tradition. When not working, Ron could often be found on a boat. He helped earn his way to college working as a commercial fisherman with his father and brother, Dick on the family fishing boat, the Nel Ron Dic.  Winter fun included downhill and cross-country skiing with family. Ron skied into his sixties. Summers were spent outdoors, waterskiing and camping throughout Oregon and exploring the Pacific Northwest, Mexico and Canada. Ron also enjoyed white water rafting and made several rafting trips with family on the Rogue, the Deschutes, the McKenzie, and the Green River. Rafting the Colorado River thru the Grand Canyon was a high point.

Wherever he went, whoever he was with, Ron shared his interest in the world, his love of adventure and his sense of humor. He had a twinkle in his eye and an eagerness to explore and try new things. He and Pat could often be found at music and wine festivals with friends, traveling in their RV.

In retirement, Ron and Pat moved to Woodburn, where he was an accomplished bridge player and an avid golfer who enjoyed competing and winning numerous tournaments. He took great joy in playing with the men’s group at the Senior Estates. An enthusiastic gardener, he loved growing his own tomatoes, basil and summer squash. Ron served on the Board at the Estates and the Marion County Waste Management Board. For many years, Ron and Pat traveled internationally throughout Asia, Australia, South America, and Europe. Spending the winters at their home in Lake Havasu for the past 11 years brought Ron much happiness.  His favorite time of day was the late afternoon, when he and Pat sat on their patio, having a glass of wine and watching the sunset over the lake.

He will be dearly missed by all the family and friends he has made over the past 88 years.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Ron’s name to the Oregon State Parks foundation.

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