It was announced just yesterday that long time industry giant Ron Toomer, 81, passed away peacefully in his sleep after a strenuous four month battle with cancer. Ronald Valentine Toomer is survived by his wife of 54 years, Betty Toomer, his four children and their spouses, as well as his nine grandchildren.
Ron Toomer was born in Pasadena, California on May 31, 1920, where he spent his early life until being drafted into the U.S. Army. Upon his return, he got his degree and worked as a mechanical engineer in the aerospace industry, even doing work for the NASA Apollo space program. According to Amusement Today, in his free time he enjoyed making hand-carved waterfowl and putting together wooden car kits, reading, crossword puzzles, cooking, and gardening. He is most known, however, for his massive impact on the amusement industry.
Toomer first joined Arrow Dynamics in 1965, then known as the Arrow Development Company, after he found out one of his coworkers on the space program had previously been a welder for the company. When he first joined Arrow Dynamics, he was brought on to help work on the company’s first mine train roller coaster, the Run-A-Way Mine Train at Six Flags Over Texas. Over the next 30 years in the industry, Ron had his hands in designing over 80 steel coasters worldwide, including the first modern era looping coaster, the Corkscrew at Knott’s Berry Farm, the record breaking Magnum XL-200, the first suspended coaster with Big Bad Wolf, and countless others.
In 1986, he became the president of Arrow Dynamics, right at the time the company was trying to develop a Pipeline coaster. This project, however, ran out of funds before the prototype could ever be completed, and the design died. He had admitted several times over the years to different sources, that he never rode the coasters he designed, but that’s because of the motion sickness he got rather than anything else. Amusement Today reports that he felt most proud of his contribution to the first “practical upside-down coaster elements (The Corkscrew)” as well as his induction into the IAAPA Hall of Fame in 2000.
There will be a memorial service held in Ron Toomer’s honor this Saturday, Oct. 1 at 11 a.m. at the Martin United Methodist Church in Bedfor, Texas. Flowers and cards may be sent to the church at 2621 Bedford Road, Bedford Texas 76021. R.I.P. Ron Toomer (1920 – 2011).