Retiree Spotlight

Meet Ron Ferrel

Ron Ferrel Imagine being responsible for designing open pit mines that yield about 1 million tons of phosphate ore each year and about 3 million cubic yards of overburden removal? As a mining engineer, with Monsanto and later Pharmacia, Ron Ferrel enjoyed a 26-year career doing just that!

Ron joined Monsanto in 1974 in Soda Springs, Idaho. He had been working rotating shifts in an open pit copper mine in Arizona prior to that and left to enjoy "day shift" hours at Monsanto in a cooler climate. He worked there until 2000, when he retired as a Senior Mining Specialist.

Ron noted, "I had a fulfilling career in my profession with direct responsibility for supplying our plant with the annual raw material it needed for its business." He boasts that he had a good paying job with a highly respected firm. "We took the lead in mine reclamation in our region," he said. A career highlight was being in charge of constructing the Enoch Valley 4-mile haul road extension 20 years ago -- a $6 million dollar project that is still in service today and something he's very proud of.

But that's not all that Ron is proud of. Ron has had success using Pfizer's new smoking cessation medicine, Chantix, to help him quit this 45-year habit. "I have seen the tortoise and hare commercials for Chantix recently," notes Ron. "It is certainly different viewing stop smoking material on TV from my perspective now."

Ron has nothing but praise for Chantix. It started with a smoking cessation class he took last February. "Chantix was mentioned, but nobody knew that much about it," recalled Ron. As a Pfizer retiree, Ron volunteered to go through the Chantix program and provide feedback to the course instructor. "Of course, one great perk is that Chantix is a Pfizer drug and so the cost for retirees is covered 100%," he said.

"I set my quit date as March 17, since I'm Irish and wanted a date I could remember. I started on Chantix one week prior to that," said Ron. Based on how the program works, you can smoke the first week. And he did; but not his usual 22 cigarettes per day. "I started with 15 and kept cutting down, but it wasn't easy," said Ron.

"Stretching my cigarettes out to 3 hours apart by the end of the week had me pretty strung out and I wondered if I could actually quit by my date," he noted. Ron had 6 cigarettes on his last day of smoking and finished the last puff at 9:11 pm on March 16. "I took my time with that last one, wanting to savor the bad taste of it so I'd remember," he said.

By that time he was up to the full Chantix dose of 1 mg twice a day and couldn't believe that from next morning on he has not had any craving for a cigarette. He did have lots of triggering moments early on. "Every thing I did reminded me of the fact that it was time for a cigarette, but I never had that 'climbing the walls' feeling again," he stated. He also did not experience any of the potential side effects of Chantix.

Ron said his smoking cessation instructor calls him a 'poster boy' for Chantix and he agrees with her. "I went back to her classes in late July and talked to about 79 attendees," said Ron. He continued, "I guess people who want to quit want to hear success stories, and I'm happy to participate. It is truly hard to believe that I could ever quit, and yet I've made it for over 6 months now and will stick with my quit. I really like the fact that with Chantix, you go off Nicotine and stay off it for good."

Ron continues to volunteer his time with self-help groups for people who want to quit and has done several quit-smoking radio spots. "I feel that if I can be of help to just one other person trying to quit, it's worth it to me. My quit with Chantix was so easy that I never had a craving for a smoke starting with my quit date, so I almost feel a bit guilty that others have such a struggle. This is my way of giving back," he said.

"This will be the first Great American Smokeout for me that I actually haven't smoked. I get up way early most mornings and have always had several smokes by the time I hear that it is Smokeout Day. I figured since I already blew it, I just kept smoking. Finally, I'll be truly able to celebrate the Great American Smokeout by not having a cigarette!"
Ron started smoking at age 17 because the other guys were doing it. He told us he turned green and felt extremely nauseated many times before he got used to smoking. "Then 45 years later, I had the experience of undoing my addiction. It will still take years to get rid of all the negative physical effects," Ron said.

When asked what one thing he would tell a person who is struggling with wanting to quit smoking, Ron replied, "Find your way to quitting and stick with it, whether through classes, a fellow quitter's network, or self-determination."

The Great American Smoke Out day is Thursday, November 15, 2007. If you or someone you know is looking for more information on how to quit smoking, visit

So, what else is Ron up to? Ron really enjoys being retired. "I laugh and tell people being retired is a full time job 24/7/365 with no time off," he joked. "Seriously, I love being able to do what I want pretty much any time without having to wait for the weekend," he explained. He also admitted that it can be a little lonely, "my wife still works full time but I've always been pretty self-sufficient so I stay busy most of the time. The past 7 years have flown by."

In his spare time, Ron is a model railroader and has been for over 60 years, ever since his mother bought him a wind up train at age 1 and an electric train at age 3. "I am working on an HO layout in my basement and am Secretary of our local model railroad club here in Pocatello."

Ron publishes a monthly newsletter for the club, hosts monthly open houses each month and other educational events. This September 331 people and scouts visited the club, setting a record. The club is open every Saturday from Thanksgiving up to Christmas and on the Friday evening after Thanksgiving as part of Old Town Pocatello's annual fall celebration. Trains run in several scale sizes and lots in the club museum area. "Admission is free and everyone is welcome," Ron pointed out.

Beyond that, Ron and his wife, Rebecca, are currently remodeling their kitchen and baths with granite countertops and new sinks. He recently installed and plumbed 5 sinks plus other hardware and lighting fixtures. "And it all works," he exclaimed!

Ron and Rebecca want to travel eventually, after she completes her doctorate in Instructional Technology.

Click here to see Ron Ferrel's photo gallery.

Related Info

Click here to view the Retiree Spotlight Archive.

Interested in being featured as a retiree spotlight?
We would love to hear from you. Email us today.