By Tiffany Merlo Phelps

Dr. Ron Joseph’s motivation for taking ice skating lessons when he was younger was pretty simple — beat a neighborhood kid in ice hockey. And he did, courtesy of his mother signing him up for skating lessons to learn to play hockey which he took alongside his younger sister, Vivian Joseph. Soon, the siblings, who lived in Chicago, went from skating lessons to being paired together for figure skating training sessions in Colorado Springs. Ron and Vivian appeared in their first ice show when they were nine and six years old, respectively. The pair typically trained two to four hours every day and competed for the very first time in 1957. “We started getting good at it,” said Joseph, who also ran track in high school which complemented skating and helped him to later secure a track scholarship to Northwestern College. In 1961, Ron and Vivian represented the United States in the United States National Junior Championships. They became Bronze Medalists in the 1964 Olympic games in Innsbruck, the World Silver Medalist in Colorado Springs and the 1965 North American Champions in Rochester and Vancouver. Most recently, Ron and Vivian were inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame, an honor 50 years in the making. Ron, who ultimately became a hand and shoulder surgeon in Arizona and Florida, is married to St. Johns County Commissioner Krista Joseph and together they have one daughter, Ali, 19. In November 2022, Ron, who had been an avid tennis player and paddle boarder, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). He views the diagnosis as just another part of his journey, another opportunity to learn, live and love his life despite the challenges he now faces. “Every day is a blessing,” said Ron, who is participating in an experimental study at Mayo Clinic assigned to ALS patients. 

Q: What did it mean to you to get inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame? 
A: It is a huge honor, but in the perspective of what we have gone through and the road here, the journey is the most important part. It was nice that people finally remembered how good we were. 

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Q: What was it like to compete at the top level in figure skating? 
A: We trained and lived in Europe. It was great, and we had some great friends. The opportunity to train with all these wonderful people was amazing. The journey and the hard work really shape your life. We learned how to schedule, how to be flexible and when you get knocked down, you have to get back up. 

Q: How did your parents influence your life? 
A: My parents were immigrants from Stuttgart, Germany, who escaped the Nazis. They had an incredibly high work ethic. They said, “If you are going to do something, do it well.” My dad worked two jobs, and my mom had a job too. My mom also traveled with us all the time. Their hard work and work ethic stuck with me.

Q: How did you first discover that you had ALS? 
A: I was holding signs for Krista’s campaign in March 2022, and I noticed that my arm was getting weak. I was playing a lot of tennis and paddle boarding, and I noticed something then too. I pretty much diagnosed what I had before going to the Mayo Clinic and receiving an official diagnosis. 

Q: How has your approach to life changed since getting diagnosed with ALS? 
A: It is funny how when you get some things taken away, the hyperactivity and the noise, it is amazing what comes to the top. What comes to the top is sunshine. You don’t have any choices, so you don’t get so focused on absolute minutia. You get to see through a lot of that. My family is getting me through this, and my faith is taking on a larger role (I converted to Catholicism last year). You have to maintain a goal every day. Every day I try to contribute something.

Photo submitted by Krista Joseph
Ron Joseph with his sister Vivian, who were recently inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame. 

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