Ronald Charl Louw was born in the beautiful country of South Africa in the town of Springs on a warm, summer day, January 11, 1936, to Izak Charl Louw and Mavis Eileen Futter. Later he was joined by his sisters, Marlene and Beverley and a brother, Brian. At 11 months he contracted polio in his left arm and right leg. He always referred to it as a blessing in disguise – to keep him a little more humble. At the age of 15 he had an operation to shorten his longer left leg and to stabilize his right foot. A few months later he won a regional tennis tournament. He was very active playing cricket, swimming and cycling besides tennis. He had a very inquisitive and imaginative mind which led him to build rockets that caused loud explosions in a metal tree house; build a submarine with his cousins, which promptly sank in the river; pretend he was Houdini and escape from the knotted rope around his leg at the end of the bed; just to name a few.
Ron developed a strong love for the prophets in his youth, as his mother would read their life stories and sermons to him. President David O. McKay was the first prophet to visit South Africa and Ron was able to shake his hand. At that time in South Africa they were not allowing men to have the priesthood unless they could prove their racial background. After visiting the people the prophet corrected that policy. Thus Ron finally became a deacon at age 18. He also met Elder Harold B. Lee, who later became the prophet, and Elder Lee helped him decide to go on a mission before college. This love of the prophets stayed with him all his life and was passed on to his children.
He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in his native South Africa. While he was on his mission his family moved to Canada with the help of N. Eldon Tanner. Upon his return he took time to travel through the Holy Land and Europe before meeting up with his family in Calgary, Canada. He had many amazing experiences, one of which was going to the temple for the first time in London. While visiting in Jerusalem, he was able to bear his testimony to a group of Jewish Zionists.
After living a few months in Calgary, he was encouraged by a friend to attend BYU. With the friend’s help he was able to travel to BYU and take the entrance test, which he passed, although he didn’t finish the English section because he spent the allotted time reading all of the questions before answering them--so they put him in an ESL class. He did student teaching in Chemistry and Seminary. In May 1966, he graduated from BYU in Psychology with a minor in Chemistry and with a teaching certificate. He met his wife Carol Ann Nicholson of Twin Falls, Idaho, his senior year at BYU. They were married June 1, 1966 in the Salt Lake City Temple. He got lost getting to the reception so his brother stood in the line for him for half of the reception. After their wedding they moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma, to work in the Lamanite Seminary Program. Their first child, Rachelle, was born in 1967. In 1968 they moved to Carson City, Nevada, where he also taught in the Lamanite Seminary Program. While there, Teresa, their 2nd daughter was born. Later in 1969 they moved to Citrus Heights where he worked at American River, Rocklin and Sacramento City College Institutes in Sacramento. There, two more children were born -- sons Ronald Charl Jr. and Keith Spencer. He spent many summers at BYU getting his Masters in Education Psychology and his doctorate in Education, which he completed in the summer of 1976. That year they moved to Chico where Ron became the director of the Chico State Institute of Religion. Through the Church Education Program he and Carol were able to go on a tour of the Middle East. He served as bishop for five years while living in Chico. He was also over the seminaries in Chico and surrounding areas.
In 1988 he was transferred to the UVU Institute (known as the Orem Institute at the time). He taught there until 1997 when he retired. After retirement he busied himself with Family History work. Once his mother-in-law, who lived with them, passed on, he and Carol were able to serve a mission in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They enjoyed their associations with the leaders, missionaries, investigators and members there. In 2007 he was able to return with Carol to South Africa and had a wonderful time visiting with family and friends. In 2009 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As debilitating as it was, he was blessed to still know us and be able to speak to us until the week before his passing. One explanation is that his lifelong pursuit of learning helped his brain ‘work around’ the disease.
At age 77, he passed away March 20, 2013 in his home in Orem with his wife and oldest son by him.
He was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife Carol Ann Nicholson Louw: his siblings: Marlene Orr (Keith) of Fort MacLeod, Alberta, Canada; Beverley Louw of Laie, Hawaii; Brian Louw (Leslie) of Orem, Utah, his children: Rachelle Pew (Tim) of Cedar Hills, Utah; Teresa Louw of Lehi, Utah; R. Charl Louw (Katie) of Saratoga Springs, Utah and Keith Louw (Amber) of Lehi, Utah. He is also survived by his grandchildren Elder Taran Pew, Timo Pew, Emily Pew, Izak Pew, Micah Pew, Zane Pew, Gwen Pew, Andersen Louw, Holly Louw, Tate Louw and Eve Louw and several loving nieces, nephews, and cousins here and in South Africa.
A viewing, celebrating his life will be held Tuesday, March 26th 6-8 PM at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Canyon View Stake Center 575 E 800 N Orem, Utah. Funeral services will be held the following day, March 27th at 11 AM with a viewing prior at 9:30-10:30 AM at the same building. His interment will be in the Orem City Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers please feel free to make a donation to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Perpetual Education Fund, Humanitarian Fund or Missionary Fund, thank you.