Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ron Taticek, In Memoriam

ron taticekUPDATE: Memorial Service to celebrate Ron's Life will be held at 3pm on Saturday, May 3rd (2014) at:

Grissom's Funeral Home - map
267 East Lewelling Blvd.
San Lorenzo, CA 94580

I learned today that my mentor and long time advocate, Ron Taticek, passed away. Most recently, Ron was the Director of Technology for Genentech's Vacaville Operations.

As I look back on my career, he's the guy in the last row of the bleachers rooting for me the entire way.

In 1994, Ron was completing his doctorate when I was a freshman at Cornell; our paths didn't cross until 1998 when I arrived in California - jobless and he was a Sr. Group Leader in Cell Culture Fermentation R&D (CCFR&D) at Genentech.

I knew to call Ron because our advisor, Mike Shuler, told me, "If you're headed west, look up this guy, Ron Taticek and he'll help you."

I was skeptical, but just as Shuler said, Ron didn't hesitate to help out a kid he'd never met.... whose only connection was through his Ph.D advisor. I called poor Ron once a week asking about jobs at Genentech. (Back then, I thought the tenacity = employment); I called him so many times that I know his phone number to this day: 650-ABLE-JOY.

He agreed to have an "informal interview" where he had me come to South City and he showed me around and left me with the words, "Companies like Genentech value professional scientific experience. So go and get at least a year's worth of professional scientific experience and then give me a call."

It turns out that in August 1998, I got a job and it was an awesome medical device job; the only thing wrong with it was that it wasn't bioprocess. And so in August 1999...with a year and two hours of professional scientific experience under my belt, I dialed ABLE-JOY.

Ron answered cheerfully (he had a very smooth phone voice) and said, "Great to hear from you, there's a junior engineer position up at our new plant in Vacaville: I'll forward your resume!"

I got that Associate Engineer position in October of 1999 at Vacaville and in 2003, I had the opportunity to work directly with Ron when they were transferring Avastin to Vacaville.  It was because of Ron's career jumpstart that I had the opportunity to work with the cell culture greats like Jess Bergevin, Dan Stark, Bob Kiss and Cartikeya Reddy (just to name a few).

What a lot of people don't know is that Ron Taticek was the lead cell culture engineer in developing the Avastin (version 1.0) cell culture process. The reason - in part - why literally tons of bevacizumab have made it to market is because of Ron's work developing the cell culture process.

In October 2004 when Ron became the Associate Director of Ferm(entation) MSAT, he asked me to join him in South City. I accepted and reported through him until I left Genentech in 2007, creating awesome tools, doing awesome support, and working with universally awesome people.

Since 2007, I'd check in with Ron a few times a year; we even sat down to have salads (apparently, our respective wives had put us on diets).  It was then that I realized I've known him for 15-years. And it was then that I realized how "there" he was for me since I was some fresh-out-of-school kid.

Jan 2013 was last time I would see Ron in person... and I'm glad I got the chance to tell him how much I appreciated him. We parted ways like usual: promising to keep in touch as he ambled off to another meeting.

If there was anything left for me to say to you, Ron, it would be:
Your life's work mattered to millions of people. Your mentorship and advocacy profoundly impacted my life.  And your true legacy: N & N will miss you dearly. Though you left us too soon... and it's not fair... you rocked this life by making a difference.

Rest in peace.


Anonymous said...

Oliver - Thanks for posting this nice memoriam to Ron. As you know, I hired Ron into Genentech, so I had the pleasure of working with him and then watching him as he progressed through his career development path. I was happy when he found his way to the VV site in the past year or so, as this was a very good fit. As you said, he made many contributions over the years through his work in bringing important medicines to people in great need. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.

Bob Kiss

Anonymous said...

Oliver, thanks for this. Ron was a mentor to me as well. He will be missed.

Kevin Stampfl

Anonymous said...

Oliver, very nice posting. Ron has been one of the favorite people I've worked with at Genentech. A true scholar and gentleman even though most of our work together was under difficult conditions in B3A. He was an informal mentor to me and his smile and cheery hello will be greatly missed.

Joe Jerkins

Richard Parapar said...

Having known Ron since his early days at GNE, it was a pleasure finally getting to work with him when he became Technology Lead at Vacaville. Ron will certainly be missed by everyone that had the opportunity to be on his team.

taticekp said...

My name is Peter Taticek and Ron was my little brother. I will be heading down from Ottawa Canada on Monday to deal with Ron's tragic death after his devastating divorce.
We are planning to have a service most likely this coming Saturday May 3rd at Grissom's Chapel in San Lorenzo CA (will post details).
The Taticek family are deeply touched by the wonderful comments.

Unknown said...


I am so sorry for your family's loss. I hope you know that Ron has impacted thousands of folks around the world, with what I can see, and always with a great big smile and story.

I worked with Ron in CMC Regulatory, and kept in touch mostly until last fall. This is heartbreaking news, and he will missed greatly.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and his whole family.

Sue Matyszyk

Anonymous said...

I met Ron once and he came across as fine upstanding individual. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and kids.

Anonymous said...

A mentor, a friend.

I miss him now.

Dave Brousseau

Sadettin Ozturk said...

This is indeed very sad and tragic. I was his first boss as I hired him to Bayer almost 20 years ago and I kept in touch for many years. He had a lively personality, very smart, and he contributed to the field extensively. My condolences to his family, fiends, and our biotech community. I will miss him greatly.

Sadettin Ozturk

Anonymous said...

I have known Ron for many years through the Cell Culture conference circle. More recently, I had the opportunity to work closely with Ron on the AMab project and through this experience we became good friends. I am deeply saddened by the news of his premature departure. Ron was a great human being, professional and friend. My deepest condolences to his family, colleagues and friends. He will be greatly missed.
Ilse Blumentals

Parisa Jorjani said...

I worked with Ron when I was a research associate at Bayer in the mid 1990s. I remember him and his big smile fondly. I recently reconnected with him via LinkedIn and having lunch with him was on my to do list. I wish we had done it sooner. He will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Very nice postings...I will also deeply miss Ron and his presence at Genentech... I have never seen him without a smile on his face...

Brian Choy

Anonymous said...

Ron was an amazing colleague and a friend. I greatly enjoyed carpooling with him for the past year on our daily commute from Danville to VV. He was an amazing leader with a passion for coaching/mentoring. He was certainly a role model for our “work hard, play hard” culture and he cared deeply for his family, his friends and his team. Certainly, I will miss him but I cherish our time together. Ron was very proud of our site, our company and the critical role we play for our patients. His work impacted many around the world. My prayers are with his family…
Mario Roman
Genentech Vacaville

Bethany said...

Ron was a sweet and funny man. I always enjoyed working on the same projects. He was so warm and joyful. I will miss him.
Bethany Goad

Anonymous said...

Ron is so alive in my memory and heart. He teased me like a brother would, publicly of course, and never failed to bring a human element to any situation. His chuckle, which sounded devious, but wasnt; his humor, his intelligence. After, I left GNE, we kept in touch, keeping me up to date on all the goings on there (apparently, I was not alone, he was good at keeping in touch with people). Ron made everyone feel like a close friend, and I know I am a better person having known him and having called him friend. I will miss him tremendously.

Shelley Suggett
Bayer HealthCare

Unknown said...

I knew Ron for many years when I worked at Genentech. He was truly a great guy and excellent at his job. It was always a pleasure to interact with him as he was such a great collaborator and a great listener. He will be missed.

Karen Brockwell

Anonymous said...

It was a pleasure to know Ron. I will remember his infectious smile, thoughtfulness, and intelligence. From time to time, I'd have coffee with Ron -- what a quality individual. We last spoke in the Fall of 2013. He said with great enthusiasm Vacaville GNE is hiring, keep in touch. Ron's presence will be missed by many. My sympathy goes out to his family.

Nancy Gieske

Venturer said...

Ron was the first manager that I interviewed for my first biotech job. He was so positive and encouraging while I was figuring out my way around this industry. He will be greatly missed.

Maria Ng

Anonymous said...

Oliver, thank for this post. Ron was a great person and as well as a mentor to me who was coming into the biotech industry 20 years ago. He will be greatly missed.

Maria Ng

Anonymous said...

My deepest sympathy to the family, especially to the children, and I can only hope that our stories of Ron can help in the grieving process. Ron was my boss for two years as the head of the Product Quality Steward at Genentech. Given what everyone else have commented here, what I say now is nothing of a surprise. Ron was more than a boss, he was a mentor and a friend. He had a special way of making you believe in yourself. As a boss, I must admit he was not the traditional type but he was committed to your success. He was one of those rare bosses that really focused on your strengths and knew how to get the best out of you. When I had a health scare last year year, he kept in touch with me more than his usual weekly calls/txt msgs. His last txt msg was the Friday before his death and as with all his other msgs, he reminded me to take care of myself and always to look out for myself.

Ron, you left us too soon but in the three short years I have known you, you have made me a better person both personally and professionally. I will honor your memory by staying true to what you have always told me to do. I will miss you and your infectious smile and laughter. Thank you for everything.

Malou Vega