Dr. Ronald J. Hirko, 74, of Brookings, passed away Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, at his home, under hospice care.
Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11, at Rude’s Funeral Home, with a luncheon to follow. Ron’s wishes were that everyone would come dressed casually to celebrate his life.
Dr. Ronald John Hirko was born on March 3, 1943, in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of John E. and Agnes D. (Wargo) Hirko.
Ron received his education in Chanel High School in Bedford, Ohio, and graduated in 1961. In 1965, he received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. He continued his education at Utah State University, and in 1969, received his PhD in Physical Chemistry in Logan, Utah. Ron was united in marriage to Mary Catherine Linn on August 14, 1965, in South Euclid, Ohio. He was employed as head of quality control for 24 years at Occidental Chemical Corporation in White Springs, Fla., and also served on the Board of Phosphate for the state of Florida. Ron was also employed for nine years at Ampex - Quantegy LTD Opelika, Ala., and directed the making of the tape used in the Hubble Space Ship. After moving to South Dakota, he was employed for 15 years as professor of chemistry at South Dakota State University. During his distinguished career, he inspired many students to enjoy chemistry, which was an accomplishment in and of itself. He was voted author of the year for his expertise in writing the lab manuals for the P-Chem labs. Ron was a member of the ACS for 45 years.
Ron traveled extensively throughout the United States as well as Europe, South America, Turkey, India and Russia. He hosted a bar-b-que for the Russian delegation at his home in Florida.
The delegation, as well as the interpreter wanted to see an American home. None of the group spoke English, and Ron was able to pull off a wonderful evening at a “real” American home and Ron’s special bar-b-que. Ron also spent many summers as a team rep for the Columbia Co. Swim Team in Lake City, Fla., running all the behind the scenes data.
His sport of choice was golf where he was the club champion for three years in a row with a handicap of 3. For many years he helped Mary with genealogic research on both of their families.
Ron’s favorite thing in life was to challenge his children from a very early age on all things, having to find the right answer and use your brain. Questions concerning anything could and did become science. His family was his life, always loving them unconditionally. Ron always is proud of his children and all they have achieved in their careers and loved hearing what they are accomplishing.
Ron is survived by his wife of 51 years, 11 months, and 3 weeks, Mary Hirko, of Brookings; one son, Andy Hirko, of Callahan, Fla.; one daughter, Tammy Hirko Baysinger, of Cary, N.C., one grandson, Payton Andrew Marshall Baysinger, of Cary, N.C.; one brother John E. (Barbara) Hirko, of Bedford, Ohio; brothers-in-law, Joseph Linn, of Euclid, Ohio, Jack (Audrey) Linn, of Richmond, Vt., Robert Linn, of West Farmington, Ohio; David (Debbie) Linn, of Chardon, Ohio and Paul Linn, of Parkman, Ohio; sisters-in-law, Gail Linn, of Breese, Ill., Andrea Powers, of Avondale Estates, Ga., Tanyavadee Lyn Linn, of Thailand, Julia Webb, of Chester, N.H., and Judy Zellhofer, of Willoughby, Ohio; 28 nieces and nephews and 34 great nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John E. and Agnes D. Hirko; parents-in-law, Gerald B. and L. Agnes (Brietenbach) Linn; son-in-law, Brian Baysinger; in-laws, Marie Linn, Edward M. Linn, Thomas A and Patricia Linn, James M. Linn, Charles Linn, Christine Linn and Steven W. Webb.
Condolences may be sent to the family through www.rudesfuneralhome.com.