Ruff Norman

Obituary
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Ruff Norman November 7, 1939 to August 20, 2017

We are overwhelmed with sadness that Norman Ruff passed away on August 20, 2017 in Victoria, B.C. He was born in Barking, Essex and is survived by his two children Andy (Louise) and Simonne (Saeed) along with four grandchildren (Annabelle, Alfie, Kahveh, and Arya).

He is best known in B.C. for his work as a political science professor and media commentator.

Norman grew up in East London and worked in a variety of jobs before graduating from the University of Southampton in 1961. At various times before launching his academic career he was a farm labourer, assembly line worker in an automobile and plumbing factory, a baker and a postal worker,

He left England for better professional opportunities in Canada, joining the Treasury Board in New Brunswick in 1962, completing his MA (PoliSci) at McMaster in 1965 and PhD at McGill in 1973.

Norman joined the University of Victoria's Political Science Department as faculty in 1969, spending the next 36 years there before retiring in 2005. From the first years of his teaching career he was energized by the student advocacy on campus and quickly became known for his unique ability to balance academic work with his contributions to lively public discourse. He served as a member of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for BC, as the Director of the BC Government Executive Development Training Programme, as a Member of the National Advisory Committee for Fair Vote Canada, and as Academic Advisor to the BC Legislative Internship Programme. Norman was an expert in and a passionate advocate for electoral reform in B.C. and Canada, drawing on his international studies for perspective, particularly his time in New Zealand.

Throughout his career, Norman influenced leaders in both B.C. politics and journalism, in the classroom and through his regular media commentary. He was well known as a go-to person for B.C.'s political reporters looking for insight into the latest developments. He had a deep knowledge of the complicated world of B.C. politics and an uncanny ability to provide clear insight with quick, succinct, and often humourous analyses. He continued commenting in media until the very last days of his life.

He was incredibly moved when he was named an Honourary member of the BC Legislative Press Gallery in 2013.

On the academic side, Dr. Ruff was honored to be recognized as an "exceptionally effective and creative teacher" by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada in 2005 with the Pierre de Celles Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Public Administration. His passion and love for teaching were so clear to everyone who knew him, despite his intimidatingly long course syllabi. His deceptively simple advice for success in his exams was to be sure to "read the question."

His family will particularly remember summers spent with him contemplating the meaning of happiness while marveling at Perseid's shooting stars. He inspired a deep and lasting passion for music (especially loud music) and film, which bring great joy to his children, particularly Andy. His favorite thing to do with his grandkids was to spot sea otters and skip rocks at Cattle Point. They love their Grandad or "Dad-Dad" deeply. He is already missed.

To remember and honour Norman, please be sure to do one thing that will make you happy.

A celebration in remembrance of Norman will be held in Victoria on October 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. His family would appreciate an RSVP to [email protected] and will reply with more details.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Norman's name to the BC Cancer Foundation in recognition of the wonderful people at the agency, in particular his skilled oncologist, Dr. McGhie.


Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province on Aug. 26, 2017
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