Inducted: November 12th, 2013
Ron was born in Chatham, Ontario in 1937, son of Thomas and Clara Sullivan. He began farming with his father, directly after high school. Their 100 acre farm in the Blenheim area has grown to more than 1600 acres. Today, Ron farms with two of his sons, Gerry and Mike.
Ron has dedicated more than 50 years to the business of farming and is still committed to the challenges and rewards of his occupation.
Terra Vista Farms, of which Ron is the former president, produces seed corn, seed wheat, Identity Preserved and seed soybeans, as well as commercial corn and soybeans. The company also operates a custom harvesting business. Ron has been growing seed corn and seed soybeans for the past 35 years. He enjoys the added challenges of growing these seed crops.
In spite of the demands of the farm, Ron was able to contribute to his community in a variety of ways. During his school days, he took part in 4-H Club activities. When his family was younger, he played a leadership role in the Boy Scouts of Canada. Ron was active in the Blenheim Kinsmen Club and served as president. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and was a member of the Golden Acres Curling Club, where he served as president. Ron has always been, and continues to be an active member of his church.
Among Ron's proudest achievements, is the 17 years he spent on the Board of Directors of the Seed Corn Growers of Ontario, which included serving as chair from 1992 to 1994. His time with the SCGO offered Ron the opportunity to travel extensively and promote the Ontario Seed Corn industry across Canada and parts of the United States. As Chair of the SCGO Insurance Committee, Ron was a pivotal figure in bringing about major changes to the crop insurance program. He is considered a dedicated person who worked hard to get a crop insurance program for seed corn. He was instrumental in getting farmers and seed corn companies working together to improve industry as a whole to make it good for both the farmers and the seed company. He also worked on Regulatory Changes and Issues with GMOs to enhance the offshore sales.
Ron is seen as dedicated, good to work with and has the best of everyone at heart.
Through his position with the Seed Corn Growers, Ron became a Director with the Agricultural Credit Corporation, now known as ACC Farmers Financial, provider of low cost operating capital for Ontario farmers. During his 10 years with this organization, Ron served two terms as Chair through turbulent times helping to get its house in order. He helped them work through regulatory changes and issues especially with GMOs. His neighbour describes him as a fiscal conservative.
Ron was Chair of the ACC Management Services, a branch of ACC Farmers Financial that serves in an advisory capacity for agricultural groups. He helped set up loans for lines of credit. He was very involved in agriculture and also organized farm tours into the United States. He was considered an excellent leader and was co-operative with the board as well as helpful in the knowledge of agriculture when they were launching new products. He provided good contacts.
Ron has seen major changes in farming, the size of farms has grown, massive modern machines, the advance of technology, and changes to the seed industry. The future will produce even greater changes and he warns that farmers will have to change with the times. He is seen as being aggressive in trying new crops in the grain sector and was one of the first farm-users of the internet. He has enjoyed travelling through the States talking farming at least once a year leaving his sons to take care of the farm. He would return with reports of what he had learned.
In addition to Ron's many accomplishments, he was awarded the Blenheim & District Chamber of Commerce Agriculturist of the Year in 2004, and in that same year, he was elected by the Canadian Seed Growers Association as a Robertson Associate.
His family and wife, JoAnne (Dries), have supported Ron through the years. Ron and JoAnne have been married for 50 years and are the proud parents of four children, Gerry and Mike who have followed in their father's footsteps, Karen, who is a high school teacher in Blenheim, and Ron Jr. who is logistic co-ordinator with Hyland Seeds in Blenheim. They have been blessed with four grandchildren. Gerry and wife Martha have a son Shaun, Mike and Debbie have two sons Kevin and Brian, and Ron and Leanne have a daughter, Madeline.
Ron and JoAnne are also involved in fundraising in health charities such as the hospital.
Ron's friends reported that when he is not in Florida playing golf and shuffleboard, he is home on the farm working!