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Great Falls —Phil Ruf , 83 of Great Falls, passed away Thursday, August 28th, 2014 at a local health care facility after a short battle with brain cancer. A memorial service for Phil will be held Saturday September 6th, at 11:00 a.m. at the Eagles Lodge, 1501 9th St S, Great Falls. Cremation has taken place under the direction of Croxford Funeral Home.
Phil was born on November 27, 1930 in Bellfield, North Dakota. He was the only child of Percy and Grace (Lavachek) Ruf. Percy and Grace moved from North Dakota to Montana when Phil was a very young child. Phil was raised in Great Falls while his father worked at the Anaconda Smelter and later at the family ranch they purchased near Monarch. He graduated from Great Falls High School in 1948 and went to work for the Great Northern Railroad and also for the Central Avenue Texaco station. During this period of his life he also was very active in the local stock racing community, working in the pits with driver Charlie Meissmer.
In 1958 he married Janice Jones of Monarch, and together they raised three sons: Greg, Pat, and Ron. Phil and Janice divorced in 1982 and in 1985 Phil married Elma Fundis of Great Falls. He welcomed and loved her four daughters (Debbie, Corinne, Brenda and Angie) as though they were his own. Phil and Elma made their home in Great Falls, but Phil's heart was always in the heart of the Little Belt Mountains. As a teenager Phil spent countless days exploring those hills with best friend Curt Mason, who was killed in the Korean conflict. Their motto was always 'One More Mountain to Climb' and Phil did his best to get to the top of every peak in the mountain range around Monarch. He was an avid elk hunter and provided much wild game meat for family and friends alike.
Phil was a well-known fixture on the south side of Great Falls as he delivered mail for the U.S. Postal Service. He made many friends along his route, and it was never too difficult to find him as he had a habit of whistling as he made his rounds. Phil was also very active in the National Association of Letter Carriers Union, serving as both local and State Union President. He always wanted to make sure the little guy got a fair shake when it came to contract negotiations. His principles earned him many friends among the Postal Carriers of Great Falls, and he did his best to serve their interests as their Union Representative. He retired from the Post Office, but never lost touch with his friends.
Phil is survived by his wife of 28 years, Elma Ruf of Great Falls, sons Greg (Laura) Ruf, of Portland, OR; Pat Ruf (Jeni Dodd) of Great Falls, and Ron (Jacki) Ruf of Kalispell and daughters, (Debbie (Vic) Sanchez of Reno NV, Corinne Cole of Great Falls, Brenda (Mike) Patterson of Great Falls, and Angie (Dave) Back of Newcastle, WY and Fifteen grandchildren, Peter Ruf, Jackie, April & Clarke Ruf, Andrea & Jaclyn Sanchez, Mark & Ryan Cole, Justin, Casey, Kelsie & Tyson Patterson, Morgan, Caleb, & Kendra Back.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Percy and Grace Ruf.
His ashes will be scattered at a later date at the ranch in Monarch.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Multiple Sclerosis Association of America NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS, 706 Haddonfield Road, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002 or My Neighbor In Need, 525 Central Ave, Great Falls, MT 59401
Condolences to the family may be shared at www.croxfordfuneralhome.com
Croxford Funeral Home and Crematory
1307 Central Avenue Great Falls, MT 59401
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Sept. 3, 2014