Willis Fassett Jr Award recipients are Ron and Marilyn Loser
Entering Ron '65 and Marilyn '86 '87 Loser's home arouses all the senses. A cowbell clangs as the front gate swings open, announcing guests. Stepping along a weathered boardwalk, visitors gaze at the immense and diverse garden stretching out past the tall blue house. Ron slides open the porch door and classical music fills the air, along with tantalizing aromas from the kitchen.
Once inside, art by local talent adorns the walls, and natural light creates an atmosphere of welcome. South facing windows provide a view of Marilyn's garden, which even in October radiates the warmth of autumn colors and a bountiful harvest. The home reflects the generosity, intelligence, and curiosity of its designers and builders – Ron and Marilyn, emeritus professors of mathematics/computer science.
Ron's ties with Adams State began when he and his brother, Robert '62; mom, Lucille '67; and dad, O. Robert '63 all enrolled – "If it weren't for Adams State we'd probably still be struggling with a failing business." His dad went on to teach industrial arts and his mother, art; Ron taught mathematics and computer science at Adams State until his retirement in June, 2003.
The Adams State Foundation will recognize the Losers with the 2013 Willis Fassett Jr. Award at the Student & Donor Recognition Dinner, November 6. In 2001, after his father passed, Ron established the Loser Family Scholarship; he continues to add to the principle every year, and last year established a legacy in his will for Adams State. "I have gotten into the habit of donating to the college," Ron said. "It is a good habit."
Adams State's impact
Marilyn said the institution makes a difference in the lives of so many in the San Luis Valley and beyond. "The price is right, and students are not just a number." She said it is often the students first time away from home and the campus provides a safe environment.
"Adams State is nurturing," Ron added. "It is an intellectual and economic enabler."
Many of Losers' friends believe the same of Ron and Marilyn. Sue and Cole Foster, emeritus professor of English, said the couple demonstrates unfailing generosity towards family, friends, and the community. The two couples have traveled together and continue to enjoy social interactions. "Ron and Marilyn exhibit wit and a wonderful sense of humor," Foster said. "They are the best friends anyone could ever hope to have."
The Fosters also respect the Losers' commitment to academic excellence. "We believe in the process of education," Ron said. "We believe in Adams State."
Marilyn agrees: "When people receive a good education it helps out their entire life. College helps inspire the desire to learn."
They both admire the dedication of Adams State's faculty across departments. "I did not know a single professor who was in it just for the paycheck," Ron said. He values the many different approaches to help students achieve. "We are not here to lower the hurdles, but to help students overcome the obstacles and challenges."
Marilyn points out the number of students who would not have access to affordable education if it weren't for Adams State. "Adams State alters people's lives." She remembers many a student who enrolled with no understanding of expectations or even the appropriate manner of dress. "I had a non-traditional student come to a tutoring session in a cocktail dress. She wore her best outfit, because she was unsure of what was expected." Rather than judge, Marilyn graciously reached out and helped the student blossom and achieve her academic goal.
Those students entering college with virtually no clue about what to expect or how to navigate the processes of academia brings out the nurturer of many a faculty member, including the Losers. Ron could have chosen a more affluent and influential college to carry out his career. He stayed. He has a story of an NEH Fellowship at an elite college – where all the students had "straightened even teeth." He preferred to mentor those with fewer advantages.
Ron believes the atmosphere of Adams State encourages students to reach their potential. He said an education provides students with a broader perspective on the universe.
Since Marilyn's retirement in 2005, the Losers have broadened their horizons with over two dozen trips across the globe. They have made it to all seven continents. "No matter the electronic media available to everyone," Ron said. "Nothing prepares you for experiencing a new location, surrounded by a different culture and a spoken language that is not your own. Travel provides a sense of the world that is valuable and diverse."
The Losers often plan their adventures with friends Anita and Mel Armold, emeritus professor of chemistry; as well as the Fosters. "Traveling is better when shared with people whose company you appreciate and enjoy," Ron added.
The Armolds said they admire Ron's ability to relish a gourmet meal at a fine dining establishment and be just as satisfied on a kayak trip down the Yukon eating from one small cup. "We both appreciate Ron's versatility," Anita said.
The couple has arranged their own vacations and have taken advantage of tours by Road Scholars. "The Road Scholars tours take care of the irritating technical details," Ron said. "You just show up with a good attitude and enjoy." Ron continues to update his website with interesting photographs and brief captions about their journeys at Dr. Ron Loser's Website.
The Losers' sense of adventure and appreciation of quality education, arts, and food impresses itself on all their friends. "Marilyn and Ron are extraordinary foodies with outrageously yummy and beautifully presented hors d'oeuvre, meals, and picnics," Sue Foster said. "They make eggs Benedict on overnight backcountry trips."
A willingness to share their bounty, whether it be in the form of perennials from the garden, food from the kitchen, books and movies from their impressive library, or money from their accounts – Ron and Marilyn touch the lives of many.
Local artist Frankie Will '90 said they have both been incredibly generous to her. "Ron and Marilyn pave the way for people to have opportunities, and they do so modestly." Her two dimensional art hangs on their walls, and her three-dimensional pieces can be found throughout the Losers' home.
"Ron did not inherit his wealth or position," Will added. "What he has achieved, he has done on his own through determination and hard work. He could not be who he is without Marilyn's support."
Standards of Excellence
Will respects the Losers' mathematical minds. Ron designed and built the original structure of their home and later doubled its size. Together Ron and Marilyn created a one-acre garden full of trees, flowers, shrubs, quiet resting spaces, a greenhouse, and a six-sided gazebo. "They have high standards of excellence," Will added.
That standard applies to all their interests, and yet Ron and Marilyn easily relate to many people and support agencies and organizations which they believe contribute to the betterment of society, including Adams State, Boys and Girls Club of the San Luis Valley, Creede Repertory Theatre, KRZA, the Nature Conservancy, Friends of the Dunes, and the SLV Regional Science Fair, and several professional organizations. Children and grandchildren also benefit from the Losers' generosity in financial support of education and retirement, as well as family trips.
"I enjoy people," Ron said, "particularly smart, hard-working people. I find them stimulating. I used to tell my students 'the person with the highest grade on their term paper taught me the most.'"
Talking with the Losers, one can quickly become intimidated by their command of the scientific world and all its intricacies. Yet, their open personal manner of conversation and genuine interest in all aspects of life soon has strangers and intimate friends alike relaxing and feeling just as important as the latest discovery in one of their scientific journals.