“When you seek me, you will find me, when you seek me with all your heart. You will search for me, and when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:12-14
“Whenever I needed help, I would pray and ask the Lord for help. I have never had a better source of support in my life.” (Lonnie’s quote)
Professor Lonnie L. Ostrom, Ph.D.
Joan and David Lincoln Professor of Applied Business Ethics
Department of Marketing, W. P. Carey School of Business
Arizona State University
President Emeritus, ASU Foundation
October 15, 1941 – July 4, 2022
Beyond the facts of Lonnie’s accomplishments, there was this incredible man. These are words from Lonnie’s own life story: Who am I?
My parents were George N. Ostrom and Berniece Ostrom and I was born on October 15, 1941, in Moline, Illinois. They were great parents whom I know loved me every day of my life. I can’t imagine my life without that love. My dad and my mother agreed that all their kids should have tasks to do around the home. Therefore, I always had one or two jobs from the time I was nine years of age. A great work ethic will serve you well for the rest of your life. In fact, my dad used to say that you will have a lot of people that are brighter than you, but none should be able to outwork you. While my dad and mom were consistent in their beliefs, there was another belief to which my dad was committed: “that nobody on this earth is better than anyone else.” Because my father had served our country in the Navy, I was also taught that hard work and serving others is a lifelong mission.
I was the oldest by five years and had three brothers and a sister. Our names: are Lonnie, Ronnie, Donnie, Bonnie, and Monnie. Interestingly enough, I was named after my mother’s pet rabbit. Yes, the names all came from her pet!
I loved athletics! I started playing tennis when I told my mother that tennis was an easy sport and she took me out and beat me six games to none. I didn’t know she was one of the best in the state of Illinois! I started playing more to try to play better than she did. Additionally, I played baseball, football, and basketball. Basketball was my passion, which offered me the opportunity to obtain a basketball scholarship to the University of Wisconsin. Arriving in Madison, I was concerned about my future, both academically and my basketball career.
Fortunately for me, all my life I was blessed with great mentors. One of whom taught me how to study. I learned that when I was doing well academically, I played better basketball. The highlight of my Wisconsin basketball playing was a nineteen-point victory over the Ohio State University, which was the top-ranked team in the country.
I furthered my academic career with a master’s in marketing from Southern Illinois University, at Carbondale Illinois, followed by a Ph.D. in Marketing from the University of Alabama. While completing my Ph.D., the Air Force called to activate me, due to the war in Vietnam and my ROTC status while in college. I was assigned to teach in the Graduate Logistics Management Program at Wright-Paterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio.
When I was near the end of my career with the Air Force, I chose three universities at which to interview. Arizona State University was my ultimate choice. The tipping point was when in addition to becoming an Associate Professor in Marketing, I was also asked to administer a Master of Business Administration as an Assistant Dean. Dean Glenn Overman, Professor Elmer Gooding, and Professor John Schlacter were instrumental in my choosing ASU. Initially, I became tenured faculty due to Air Force Publications.
In 1982, ASU President Russ Nelson asked if I would consider becoming president of the ASU Foundation and be responsible for all ASU Fundraising responsibilities. He gave me until 8:00 am the next day to decide. After talking with friends and family, I decided to say “yes!”
Under the presidency of Lattie Coor, I had wonderful mentors in Lynda Lumpkin, Kay Gammage, Kax Herberger, plus many others, including faculty, staff, donors, board members, and community leaders. President Michael Crow, a “wow, wow visionary” took us from an also-ran public institution to the edge of greatness. While I may not be around when it happens, ASU will move beyond the edge to a great public University. Thank you to Michael Crow! Additionally, I must thank Dr. Rick Shangraw, who became President of the ASU Foundation, for his allowing me to mentor him and for becoming a wonderful friend.
During my lifetime family and friends have always been there for me. Those relationships have become even stronger as I have grown older. True friendships are a gift! A gift that keeps on giving! They are there to help you every day. Whenever you need anything, whether it’s a good thought, laughter, assistance, prayers, or all of them, true friends are there. I am so very blessed because I have so many. I love them all very much. Remember, you can do anything with a good education, a good work ethic, a good laugh every day, and a love for people, especially, my wife Martha, who has always been there for me. While you are no better than anyone else, you must find what you love doing! I have! Thank you, Jesus!
We the Ostrom family know we could never list the many lives Lonnie touched or those who touched his life. We thank all of you for being a part of our community.
Dr. Lonnie Ostrom passed peacefully in his home surrounded by his family to his heavenly home. Lonnie Ostrom is survived by his loving wife, Martha, siblings Ronnie Ostrom, Donnie Ostrom (Kay Ostrom), Bonnie Ostrom Rives, and Monnie Ostrom, children Amy Ostrom (Troy Buchanan), Jennifer Ostrom Kraver (Keith Kraver), and Ryan Ostrom (Vanessa Ostrom), his stepchildren Kelly Delmore (Paul Delmore), Erin Tawney (Chris Tawney), Amy O’Melia Endres (Kevin Endres), and Katie O’Melia, 13 grandchildren, seven nieces and nephews, and other extended family.
A celebration of life will be held at ASU in the fall. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Lonnie Ostrom Family Endowment (asufoundation.org/ostromendowment) that supports students, staff and faculty in the Department of Marketing in the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU or to St. Vincent de Paul (stvincentdepaul.net/give).