Cadalyst’s Ron LaFon Dies at Age 63

18 May, 2011 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

Contributing editor reviewed hundreds of hardware and software products in his 17 years with the publication.

Cadalyst contributing editor Ron LaFon, the publication’s primary hardware and software reviewer for nearly two decades, passed away on May 8 after a lengthy illness. LaFon, 63, had been hospitalized recently for health complications, but his death nonetheless came as a shock to those who knew and worked with him. “This is really sad news,” said Robert Bragaglia, president of Xi Computer, who worked with LaFon often over the years. "The CAD community will miss Ron as one of the best tech journalists of the last decade.”

Ron LaFon

Ron LaFon began reviewing hardware and software for Cadalyst Labs in 1994. (Photo by William E. Adams)

LaFon had a keen interest technology, was always ready to take on yet another product review, and was at work on various assignments right up until the time he died. Hundreds, if not more than a thousand CAD-related products crossed his test bench in Cadalyst Labs during his 17-year association with the publication.

LaFon’s first article appeared in Cadalyst magazine in March 1994, a review of AutoVision (Autodesk), ARE-24 (KETIV Technologies) and AccuRender (Robert McNeel & Associates) rendering solutions. Originally teamed with coauthor David Pitzer, it wasn’t long before LaFon was working solo, recalled Art Liddle, former editor-in-chief of Cadalyst. “As I took on more duties at the magazine, Ron became the main reviewer for all types of hardware, as well as rendering software,” said Liddle. “Eventually, he was doing many of our monthly round-up reviews on his own. He was a great guy and was always meticulous about getting the details right. Ron will be missed.”

Sara Ferris, another former Cadalyst editor-in-chief, said, “I'm very sorry to hear the sad news about Ron. It was always a pleasure to work with him.” Recalling LaFon’s stalwart nature, she added, “He did a thorough and fair job evaluating products. He was unflappable in dealing with the inevitable hazards of doing reviews: products that don't show up on time, or don't work as promised, or don't work period.

“What I remember most about Ron is his breadth and depth of interests,” Ferris continued, “which extended well beyond the CAD world.” He was an avid and talented photographer, botanist, cook, astronomer, and writer. He wrote and edited numerous books on a variety of topics and in three languages: English, German, and French.

LaFon enjoyed traveling as well. Ferris recalled, “Once Ron needed some test drawings for a large-format scanner review, so I sent some along, including a topo map of one of my favorite spots, the Three Sisters Wilderness [in Oregon]. It turned out that Ron was quite familiar with the area because he'd spent some time there taking photographs when he was living in Sonoma, California. His interest in photography had taken him to many interesting places.”

LaFon had lived in California for three decades before moving to Atlanta, Georgia, later in life.

If one thing is true about LaFon, it is that he was a passionate man -- passionate about technology almost as much as he was passionate about pursuing what you love and living life to the fullest. The CAD community has lost a remarkable contributor. He will be missed.

LaFon's family suggests donations to the American Diabetes Association in his memory. E-mail written remembrances to to be posted below.



May 18, 2011

Ron, words cannot express my gratitude for your contributions to Cadalyst. Through thick and thin, you were always devoted. Nor can words express my fondness for you as a person and a colleague. I will never forget you.

Nancy Johnson


May 19, 2011

Please express my heartfelt condolences to Ron's family. I was a big fan of his work, and will miss his keen insight and understanding of technology.

A sad day indeed.

Tom Salomone
MDA Segment Mgr., Workstation Division
Hewlett-Packard Company 

May 23, 2011

It was a shock to hear about Ron. I never met him, but he was the face of reviews at Cadalyst, at least for me. I was just re-reading a stack of recent Cadalyst magazines the night before I saw the news, thinking to myself, "This guy really knows his stuff. ..."

R.K. McSwain
Cadalyst contributing editor 

May 23, 2011

The news about Ron is sad indeed.  I’ve been a follower of his for years and years.  He helped me always choose the right software package and was instrumental in my growth as an accomplished CAD person.  I ask for blessings upon him and his family through these difficult times. 

You will be missed my friend. 

Rest in peace,

Ross Tucker
CAD Manager
911ETC, Inc

September 21, 2012

Ron will be missed here in Virginia also. He left Giles County Va. early in life and traveled to the West Coast. I am Ron’s first cousin, his mom and my mom were sisters. He loved his work and was a great photographer.

Paul D. Martin


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