Reindeer Man: Ron Disher

November 20, 2012

Ron Disher of Whitehouse, Ohio, feeds reindeer Dasher II and Dancer II, who had lost their mothers.

Ron Disher runs a farm in Whitehouse, Ohio, where visitors buy Christmas trees, wreaths, and decorations to add to their holiday cheer. People can also mingle with chickens, cows, a camel or two, and even reindeer. He’s carried on the legacy of his father, Victor, who oversaw the farm for many years while owning and operating a local electric business.

Ron also followed his father’s educational path to Ohio State. The love of Scarlet and Gray, in fact, became firmly embedded in his family tree in the 1930s when his father, aunt, and uncle all graduated and pursued successful careers. Beginning around age 4—even before he understood what the words meant—Ron was known to tell everyone around him that he, too, would be a Buckeye one day.

“Our family members prepared us for the future by laying the groundwork,” he said. “My brother, Larry, and I grew up caring about the university and viewing our education as a privilege.”

And so they went to Ohio State, where Ron played baseball and earned a bachelor’s degree in Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences in 1955. That year, Ron also pitched in the first no-hit game for the Buckeyes, and his team won the Big Ten Championship. Larry played football and—with the help of a recommendation from his coach, Woody Hayes—studied veterinary medicine, graduating in 1960.

Ron went on to teach high school and coach baseball, all while keeping his hand in one agricultural endeavor or another. About a decade ago, his former wife, Cathy, and daughter, Megan, suggested adding reindeer to the farm as a way to attract new visitors. Now a member of the Reindeer Owners and Breeders Association of North America (ROBA), Ron said his farm has produced 12 offspring. He keeps some of the reindeer on his farm and sells the others to members of ROBA.

The reindeer even inspired Ron and Megan to author an illustrated book called Santa Claus and Claudine, The Happiest Reindeer Ever!

Megan continued the family Buckeye tradition by attending Ohio State for two years. She was in the marching band and worked for The Lantern. She completed her degree at Bowling Green and is now studying to be a physician’s assistant.

Ron has served as a member of the livestock judging team for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. He also stays connected to the university as a lifetime member of the Ohio State University Alumni Association and through recognition by the President’s Club.

“I have enjoyed taking part in President’s Club events and interacting with staff members,” he said. “But for Ohio State, I would have missed out on an extraordinary life and a path that was set into motion from an early age.”

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