Leading the Pack Brings Couple to Cordillera Ranch

High school sweethearts Ron and Kathy Fielding have always been leaders of the pack, both professionally and at home. The two Union, New Jersey natives, who’ve been married 43 years, enjoy not only a history of high achieving careers in the food and nutrition industries, but also pet parenting over the decades. Since their first pet back in 1977, they’ve had six dogs and two cats. Ron says, “We don’t have children per se, but are avid animal lovers and consider them as kids.” The genesis of each pet is woven into the tapestry of the many cities of residence for the Fieldings and their assorted fur family.

By Cheryl Van Tuyl Jividen  ::  Photography by Mark Humphries

The pack has included Felix — a cat named for the feline cartoon character — acquired in New Jersey, as well as a pair of full-bred German Shepherds, acquired in Seattle, named Liberty and Freedom in patriotic honor of the tragedies of 9/11. There was Lucky, a Collie/Shepherd stray they rescued from their Chicago neighborhood. Madison was a Shepherd/Australian cattle dog mix they adopted from a shelter in Minnesota. Now, two large canines call the Fielding’s abode in Cordillera Ranch home. Bandit, their Husky/Retriever mix, was rescued from Minnesota where they keep a second home. He’s joined by B9, a German Shepherd, explosives-trained dog from the Czech Republic that was in route to the Middle East when they met him at the Kendall County Veterinarian Center and ultimately brought him home. “We fell in love with him and ended up out-bidding the Iraqi company to buy him. He’s become a wonderful security system/house pet,” says Ron.   

But it wasn’t just the collection of their beloved pack of pets over the years that drew the Fieldings to these cities and beyond. It was their careers. Kathy, a Registered Dietician, studied at Indiana State and Montclair State Universities earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and graduating with honors. After postgraduate work at Perth Amboy General Hospital in New Jersey, and with her RD in hand, she worked at Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey as a dietitian. A year later she became the clinical coordinator for the Perth Amboy General Hospital Dietetics Internship. “It was a dream job for a newly minted RD,” says Kathy. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Kathy held various senior positions before joining UNICITY, a major research, development and marketing corporation of high-end nutritional supplements.  

Ron earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce from Rider College in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. He was awarded a scholarship from General Foods™ Corporation to attend Harvard Business School’s International Graduate Program. “It was a challenging but wonderful experience that featured a small class of 50 students from 15 countries and included studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts and at the London Business School.” In between his time in the classroom, he grew his career, joining Oscar Mayer® Foods Corporation in New York City, initially focused on sales and sales management before transferring to multiple locations around the country including Albany, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Nashville, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. Eventually, the couple moved to Madison, Wisconsin, the home of Oscar Mayer’s corporate headquarters, where Ron held various sales, marketing and business development positions. When the Phillip Morris Companies, then the owner of Oscar Mayer/General Foods, acquired Kraft Foods, his job led them to Chicago — home of the newly formed Kraft General Foods world headquarters, where he moved into corporate strategic planning. A career move to Hormel Foods Corporation led the couple to the company’s headquarters in Austin, Minnesota. Ron was elected an officer of the company, responsible for the International Business Unit overseeing all export sales and marketing activities and providing oversight to joint venture companies located throughout the world, after which he managed both the company’s refrigerated and dry grocery business units. Ron eventually became Executive Vice President of Corporate Development before retiring in 2013.

The Fieldings had the good fortune of visiting the Texas Hill Country over the years, primarily for business purposes. In 2009 at an Oscar Mayer Alumni event in Wisconsin, they learned about Cordillera Ranch from Ron’s former business colleagues, Tom Keim and Jack Kelly, who had both relocated there. “Tom and Lee Ann Keim and Jack and Roni Kelly are largely responsible for our introduction to Cordillera Ranch.” Within a year, they bought a lot and in 2013, moved from Minnesota into a rental property in Boerne. Nearly two years later, they moved into their newly built home.   

Since moving to Cordillera Ranch, Ron has continued his career with director and advisory roles with The University of Texas at San Antonio and the Johnsonville Sausage Company located in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He also serves as a board member of Hill Country Family Services in Boerne, a non-profit focused on helping Kendall County residents facing various issues in their lives. “We help over 1000 clients overcome challenges ranging from mental health through food and shelter aid,” says Ron.

Kathy, licensed to practice in both Texas and Minnesota, continues her work with UNICITY. Her professional focus has shifted from geriatrics to preventative health and wellness and functional medicine. The benefit has extended beyond her job says Ron, “Her knowledge and continuing education in this area of nutrition has served us, family and friends well over the past several years.”

The transition to Cordillera Ranch came with ease. “We feel blessed to have had the opportunity to live throughout the United States, travel to more than 40 countries and are able to contribute to the local community. The decision to move to Cordillera Ranch was quite easy as we had friends living here,” says Ron. They also appreciate the planning and dreaming that went into its creation. Ron shares, “The Hill and Northington families, founders of this community, shared an exceptional vision that has since been brilliantly executed. Moreover, they have expertly ensured for its future development. While there is so much we enjoy about Cordillera, we believe the single nicest aspect of living here is the complete freedom and encouragement to be just you!”

The couple are food enthusiasts and enjoy entertaining at their home. “Having spent a number of years traveling around the United States and the world, my favorites include Indian and other Asian cuisines,” says Ron. “Kathy is masterful — she cooks just about any cuisine. She is best known for her Italian cooking and generally gets raves for her spaghetti ‘Gravy’ — meat-based Italian sauce. My contribution to our culinary efforts is on the grill.” At the Fieldings’ home, dinner plans begin while having lunch! When not eating at home, the Fieldings dine at the Club for steaks and seafood, and appreciate the wines and Champagnes.

Together, they’ve been to so many places near and far. “I spent several years in Asia and for a period of three years had an apartment in Beijing as I was traveling to China very frequently as part of two Hormel Foods joint venture companies. I’ve had the good fortune of traveling to 43 countries across the world during my work as Hormel’s International head and as part of my M&A work for Hormel,” says Ron. “It is impossible to list favorites as they are all quite unique, but Colombia, Australia, Italy, South Africa, Japan and China are high on our list to revisit someday.”

Truth be told, the couple do have a favorite place to visit. It’s their second home in Southeast Minnesota. Their 26 acres of wooded property outside of Rochester on Trout Run Creek in the bluff country is full of valleys and hills with abundant trout streams affording them great fly-fishing opportunities. With a main home and guest house, they generally spend early fall there enjoying beautiful weather and excellent fishing.

Back home, their affection grows, “Since moving here, we have become increasingly enchanted with Cordillera Ranch and the Hill Country largely because of the new friends and fabulous neighbors we have. Clearly, we feel fortunate to live in a very well-run private community and we’re thoroughly convinced that we made the right decision.” They also find there is plenty to do. Avid users of the fitness center and the various food and beverage amenities at the Club, the future holds some personal goals for the couple. “While Kathy and I have been golfing members since moving here, we’ve only played a few rounds. Our goal is to play more going forward. Embarrassingly, I measure my current success by the number of golf balls I lose each round,” jokes Ron. “We’ve heard many other members refer metaphorically to Cordillera Ranch as a ‘cruise ship on land’ and we now share that point of view.”   

Next up, Ron and Kathy and the rest of the pack are heading to Minnesota for their seasonal getaway, but this time their big boys, Bandit and B9, are flying for the first time on Jet Linx. At 80 – 90 pounds each, Ron knows, “It should be quite an adventure.”

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