Kenneth R. Ruff
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August 8, 1933 - April 10, 2012
SALEM - Ken was born on August 8, 1933 in Waukegan, Illinois to Virginia Adeline Van Dien Ruff and Guy Edward Thomas (ET) Ruff. Later, the family moved in stages Westward until they stopped for a time in Trout Lake, Washington. There Ken, at age 14, loved to take his horse and .22 rifle and go camping in the White Horse Heaven Hills for a night or two. When Ken was 15, the family moved to Hood River, Oregon, where Ken played high school basketball, football and ran track.
After graduating from Hood River H.S., Ken attended the University of Oregon where he met and married Patricia Gilbert. He taught high school in Albany, Oregon and then in Navato, California. He and his wife and three kids moved to Fremont, California, where Ken and Patricia parted ways. After receiving his Masters Degree in education in 1961, specializing in remedial reading, Ken taught remedial reading in several California high schools. In September, 1961, Ken met Sharon McGowan (an Oregonian) when they both arrived to teach in the Irvington H.S. in California. They were married August, 1962. Nine months after they were married, they took custody of Ken's three children, Kenneth R., Jr (Rick), Sharon (Shari) and Kelly.
In 1964, Ken was tapped by Evelyn Wood Reading Dynamics to be Director of Education in Northern California, training the sales staff and teachers and overseeing the classes. After a 9-month stint in Vancouver, B.C. in 1966-67, the family moved to Long Beach, California, where Ken was the Director of Education for the Pacific Northwest. His and Sharon's son, Michael, was born there.
In 1970, the family moved to the Chicago area where Ken helped start up a new division for Encyclopedia Britannica, which included the Britannica Learning Centers, Britannica Reading Centers and later, the Britannica Preschools. After a year, Ken became the Executive Director of the division. After 11 years with Britannica, from 1981 until he retired Ken worked as Director of Education or as Director for various proprietary schools in the Chicago area, including the Echols Travel Training Schools, 11 years with the Lincoln Technical Institutes, and the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago (CHIC).
Ken loved sports, especially basketball, which he played as often as possible and otherwise watched on TV. He was a great fan of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. He also watched all of the Chicago Bears football games plus all games played by any U of O team.
Ken loved his wife and children and was never happier than when they drove by different scenic routes to Oregon to visit family. During their 27 years in Illinois, Ken and Sharon also traveled to France, Italy, Wales, England, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
In 1997, Ken and Sharon retired and returned to Oregon to live in Sharon's grandparents' original farmhouse plus 20 acres south of Independence. After remodeling the house, they acquired a camping trailer and spent many happy summer days camping with family at their camp sites on the Santiam River. They often feasted on mounds of crab caught during crabbing trips at the coast. Ken and his garden tractor-mower became a familiar sight along Wigrich Road as he manicured the grass in the yards and the orchard. Ken, always a gregarious people person, soon had many neighbors stopping beside the road to chat with him for a bit.
Ken was preceded in death by both parents and his younger brother. Survivors include his wife of almost 50 years, Sharon; son Kenneth R., Jr. (Aleksandra) of Campbell, California; son Michael (Colleen) of Farmington, Michigan; daughter Sharon (Bruce) Cohen of Nauvoo, Illinois; and daughter Kelly (Todd) Moxley of Lisle, Illinois; 7 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.
A private celebration of life by family and close friends was held at a local restaurant on April 28, 2012. Farnstrom Mortuary, Independence, handled final arrangements.
Published in StatesmanJournal on May 6, 2012