Gerald 'Jerry' Thomas Ruff
Gerald "Jerry" Thomas Ruff passed away unexpectedly Friday, March 26, 2021, at the age of 66. At the time of his passing, he was surrounded by his loving wife and daughter at his country home in La Crosse, where he spent years growing a family and walking the nature paths that he loved so much.
Jerry's loving presence was first felt Dec. 29, 1954, in Minneapolis, when he was born to Gerald and Mary Kay (Holland) Ruff. His family then moved to Fargo, N.D., where Jerry attended Holy Spirit Grade School and Shanley High School. Growing-up with five brothers and sister, Jerry made sure to keep his parents' attention by pushing the occasional boundary, test-crashing bicycles into trees, and wrestling with his siblings. Jerry also loved to run cross country, listen to a variety of music (James Taylor being a favorite), and volunteering for events like taking care of the elderly.
For higher learning, Jerry received an elementary education degree from St. John's University and a Master's degree in English from the University of Minnesota. It was during this time that Jerry's sister, Mary, introduced him to his better half, Vivian Storm. Although Jerry thought the dates with Vivian started well before they actually did, the couple would eventually come to an agreement on their relationship status. On April 30, 1983, at the Pontoppidan Lutheran Church in Fargo, Vivian's father the Rev. Waldemar Storm, officiated and blessed this wonderful couple's marriage.
In 1984, Jerry and Vivian moved to La Crosse, where their family's roots would grow over the next several decades with four children in tow, three boys and one daughter. Together they built a life focused on faith, family, friendship and love for one another. To help support his family, Jerry occupied several different positions that involved writing, editing, and teaching English. Over the years Jerry was employed with the Diocese of La Crosse as editor of the "The Times Review" newspaper, Capstone Press in Mankato, Minn., and St. Mary's Press in Winona, Minn. He also had some limited work at Viterbo University. Like his father, Jerry had a way with a pen-stroke and finding the right choice of words (even if his children didn't always agree with how he edited their school papers). Jerry retired in March 2020, and he thoroughly enjoyed the freedom to use his time as he wanted. Jerry spent the last year of his life working on numerous creative endeavors, writing poetry, children's stories and editing for friends. He secured contracts for publishing several children books. The first of which will be released in August 2021. These books will be an everlasting gift for families and children.
For those who had the opportunity to meet Jerry, he always provided a genuine smile, love, and grace for others. He forged many relationships through ordinary daily encounters, at such places as the workplace, the YMCA, the Roncalli Newman Center/English Lutheran Church men's group which he participated in weekly for years, his neighborhood, and community encounters. Jerry was shaped by his loving parents, his strong Catholic upbringing, and his continuing search for faith, truth, and love. During his years in La Crosse, Jerry participated in fellowship with the members of both Roncalli Newman Center and English Lutheran Church. Jerry truly lived out Jesus' Gospel message to love God above all things and to love your neighbor as yourself.
Jerry is survived by his wife, Vivian Storm; and in legacy by his children, Ethan (Lina Binte Yahya, partner), Quinn (Olivia), Gregory, and Alice (Howard) Heinrich; his grandchildren, Neil and William Heinrich and Owen and Wilder Ruff. In addition, Jerry is survived by his mother, Mary Kay Ruff; siblings, Christopher (Clare), Paul (Dunia), Mary (Kevin Smith) Ruff, Joseph (Martha), Patrick (Mary), Steven (Gloria); foster sister, Maribel (Tom) Ebeling; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Gerald James Ruff.
Although his family and friends are heartbroken, they take solace knowing that he is now with his Lord and Savior, forging new trails in his heavenly home.
There will be a private funeral for the family April 3, at English Lutheran Church in La Crosse. The event will take place at 11a.m. CDT and a live stream link will be available on the English Lutheran Church website home page, which can be found at www.englishlutheran.org for those who would like to join virtually. There will also be a celebration of life event in the future, with details forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials which will be distributed to charities of the family's choice and that were close to Jerry's heart. Jerry's online guestbook may be signed at www.schumacher-kish.com.