ChemE Professor Emeritus Ronald Pugmire Passes


University of Utah chemical engineering Professor Emeritus Ronald J. Pugmire, a long-time member of the department and former university associate vice president of research, passed away Dec. 15. Ron was a pioneer in the area of solid-state NMR and made great advances in the chemistry of coals and oil shale. Below is the family’s obituary honoring his life and work.

Ronald J. Pugmire passed away on December 15, 2020 surrounded by his family. He was born on January 6, 1937 in Shelley, Idaho to Jesse Lewis Pugmire and Wanetta Anderson Pugmire, the youngest of their five children (Bertha, Verda, Lawrence, and Norma). Raised on a farm outside of Shelley, Ron learned the values of hard work, honesty, and self-reliance as he labored alongside his sharecropper parents to provide the basic necessities of life. These attributes served him well as he moved on to Idaho State University where he excelled in academics, student government, boxing, and football, achieving Academic All-American status as a running back. While later pursuing a Ph. D. in chemistry at the University of Utah, Ron met and later married Linda Knell on July 17, 1965 in the St. George, Utah Temple. Ron and Linda are the parents of five children: David (Lorie Barrus), Matthew (Anne-Katherine Pingree), Rebecca Hamilton (Ryan), Benjamin (Adrienne Dewsnup), and Jonathan (Rebecca Grant). Ron and Linda have been blessed with twenty grandchildren, each of whom adored their grandpa.

Ron was a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and served in various assignments throughout his life. He had the honor of serving a mission with Linda to Nairobi, Kenya where they oversaw Public Affairs for the church in Eastern Africa. Serving as a bishop on several occasions, Ron impacted the lives of countless individuals. He especially cherished working with the youth as well as the 4 years he spent with Linda serving as the Branch President at the Salt Lake County Jail.

Ron spent his entire career at the University of Utah where he was a Professor of Chemical Engineering and Adjunct Professor of Chemistry. He was given Emeritus Professor status upon his retirement in 2011. He also spent 39 years as the Associate Vice-President for Research where he oversaw numerous research projects. In addition to his University administration, he maintained an active academic career as a preeminent fuel scientist, as evidenced by his receipt of the 2007 Henry H. Storch Award in Fuel Chemistry for his contributions to the development of NMR techniques to characterize both liquid and solid hydrocarbon fuels and their products. As a professor, he advised and mentored numerous students, was the author of 380 scientific publications, served as the editor for several academic books, and organized and led scientific conferences. Ron loved the University of Utah and was grateful for the opportunities he received there and for the students and associates with whom he worked. He was an avid Utah Football fan and loved attending and watching games with his family.

Ron had an excellent sense of humor. He never took himself too seriously, always laughing along with his children, often times at his own expense. He loved to play the guitar and had an exceptional singing voice. While Ron achieved much professionally throughout his life, his crowning achievement was his quiet kindness and his demonstration of how to be a loving husband and father. His examples of hard work, obedience, humility, integrity, and service will impact his family for generations

He is survived by his wife Linda, his five children and their spouses, and his twenty grandchildren.

The family would like to extend a special thank you to a true angel, Heather, from Canyon Hospice, for her devoted care of Ron.

A graveside service for immediate family will be held at Memorial Mountain View Cemetery, 3115 E. Bengal Blvd, Cottonwood Heights, UT on Monday, Dec 21, 2020 at 11:00am. A viewing will be held for friends and family at the Memorial Mountain View Mortuary the same day beginning at 10:00am.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests you consider donating to LDS Philanthropies Humanitarian Aid, or the charity of your choice.