Fresno State celebrated the life and work of Ron Metzler, a life-long Fresno State supporter, last weekend.
Metzler was a devoted Bulldog who revolutionized agricultural practices in the community and worked to strengthen the athletic department.
The event took place at the Henry Metzler Gazebo, which is named after his father, who was also an active supporter of Fresno State.
“Ron was the kind of dreamer who visualized the possibilities in the growth of the athletic program,” said Pat Ogle development officer at the Bulldog Foundation. “He would immediately say that’s enough dreaming, let’s go out and make it a reality, he was a changer and charger in getting things done.”
He was a track and field standout who graduated from Fresno State in 1959 with a degree in viticulture. Throughout his life, Metzler was heavily involved with Fresno State and agriculture in the Central Valley.
“Ron left a legacy of professionalism, and knowledge of agriculture. He brought technology of agriculture to the Valley,” said Nat DiBuduo president of Allied Grape Growers in Fresno. “He brought deficit irrigation to vineyards before there was a drought, before there was a need for deficit irrigation.”
Metzler was a part of the first California Agricultural Leadership Foundation when it began 46 years ago at Fresno State and the first executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association. Today, the foundation educates 30 leaders in agriculture a year.
“He’ll be remembered for his passion for higher education, while having a great interest in seeing agriculture thrive in the Central Valley with innovation. He was someone that had ideas before their time and wasn’t afraid to try them,” said Alcidia Gomes, executive director of Ag One.
Metzler died on Nov. 24, 2014 in Arizona at the age of 78.
He was an aggie at heart who grew up in Sanger and was introduced to his family’s vineyard at a young age.
“My father, my uncle, Ron and his brother grew up farming just down the street from each other, so there were close family ties,” said DiBuduo. “Ron and I might have known each other for 30 years, but the family goes way back to our grandfathers.”
Students, staff and faculty of the department of viticulture and enology honored Metzler with an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014 after he was diagnosed earlier that year.