Ron and his wife Christine at their son’s wedding.

For more than a dozen years, Ron Nelson was part of SDM’s extended family of writers and held the title, “Contributing Technology Writer.” Last month we learned that, following a long battle with cancer, Ron passed away on January 31. He will be missed dearly by the SDM team.

Ron took over writing SDM’s 5-Minute Tech Quiz in September 1994 from another author. During the next 16 years, Ron never missed a deadline. He carefully planned each quiz so that the material was not only relevant to technicians, but also so that the questions were unambiguous and a single answer was clear.

Ron spends time with Marissa, his granddaughter, last year. Ron is survived by his wife, Christine, son Ronald, daughter-in-law Kelly and granddaughter Marissa; daughter Diana, son-in-law Mike and grandson Jake; six nieces and nephews, as well as a brother, Richard, and a sister, Lorraine.

Towards the end of each year I would write to Ron, asking, “The new year is almost upon us, Ron. Are you interested in writing the quiz again next year?” He would always respond affirmatively. In fact, last September he replied, “It would be my pleasure to continue writing for SDM.”

Ron and I collaborated on the general topics, but the specific monthly quiz questions and the “What’s Wrong with This?” scenarios — featuring Wally ‘Larman the bungling installer — were uniquely Ron’s creations.

He pulled them from his first-hand experiences as the director of operations for Mutual Central Alarm Services Inc., New York. Ron worked in the security industry for more than 38 years, spending time as an installer for Honeywell; a tech support manager for Jeweler’s Protection; a vice president of installation at Holmes Protection; and lastly at Mutual Central Alarm Services Inc., New York. Each position gave him a treasure trove of personal knowledge and experience to pull from each month.

“He lived all the questions that appeared in the quiz,” said Jeff Slatken, installation manger at Mutual Alarm and Ron’s co-worker and friend. “He would be teaching the answers to the questions here, and he thrived on giving people the quick answer to any question right away. He was an information guy. Around here when you couldn’t get the answer through the normal channels, you always ended up at
Ron’s desk, Slatken described. “He was ‘the quiz guy.’”

Ron Nelson, pictured here on the job at Mutual Alarm, wrote SDM’s 5-Minute Tech Quiz every month since 1994.

The informational value of Ron’s quizzes didn’t go unnoticed by our readers. We regularly heard from security dealers who wanted to use the quizzes as part of their training programs. It was no wonder, when over the course of a year Ron covered a variety of subjects such as card access technologies, security system power, fire protection, UL standards and NFPA codes, IP video technology, home theater and wireless technologies, among others.

Ron’s son, Ronald Nelson, shared that his father, “went to work each and every day not for the money, but because he loved what he did.” That passion showed in the quizzes he wrote for SDM. “He was a caring and loving person and will be missed by all who knew him,” his son shared. “One could not ask for a better father.”

Ron was smart, experienced, hardworking, gracious, courteous and prompt. He had a positive impact on SDM, helping to make it stronger and more useful to subscribers. We will miss working with him, but we are grateful for the time we had with Ron and the opportunity we were given to share his expertise. 

Heather Klotz, Associate Editor, contributed to this article.