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Wallace George Ruff
10/24/1930 — 10/08/2023
Celebration of Life
Wallace George Ruff
Wallace “Wally” George Ruff
October 24, 1930 – October 8, 2023
Wallace Ruff was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois to George and Anna Ruff and was the third of eight children. He grew up in Lansing, Illinois with his siblings working at the local farms in the summers and in his father’s automotive garage. He graduated early from Thorton Fractional High School in 1948 and worked at the local airfield learning how to repair airplane engines. He also received his private pilot’s license during this time, an activity he enjoyed for the rest of his life.
In early 1951, he joined the Illinois Air National Guard as a crew chief for a Douglas B-26C Invader squadron in the 126th Bombardment Wing (Light). In the spring of 1951, his wing was brought up to active service and flew to France as part of the NATO forces in Europe. He spent time at the Bordeaux-Merignac Air Base and the Laon-Couvron Air Base north of Paris. He was discharged from active duty in the Air Force in 1952 and returned to the United States.
During his time abroad, his parents and family had moved to Eugene, Oregon, so he rejoined his family there and attended Oregon State College in the Industrial Engineering program. It was during this time that he met Ruth Laughlin Simonson, a nurse who had moved to Corvallis with her son, Eddie, after her first husband’s death several years prior. They married in 1955 and after Wally’s college graduation in 1957 they moved to Richland, Washington where he took up an engineering position with General Electric Company on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. In 1959 Wally and Ruth welcomed their son Leonard into the world, followed by the birth of their daughter Phyllis in 1961.
In 1969 Wally accepted a position managing a nuclear fuels processing plant in Wood River Junction, Rhode Island for United Nuclear and the family settled in the historic little town of Ashaway, Rhode Island. In 1975, the family moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Wally took on the management of a uranium extraction plant in Mulberry, Florida for the Uranium Recovery Corporation. In 1979, the family returned to the Tri-Cities where Wally managed the Sandvik plant that manufactured nuclear fuel tubing. Then in 1982, he took over management of N-Reactor at Hanford and ultimately retired in 1994 as the Deputy Director of Transition Projects for Westinghouse Hanford.
In retirement, Wally enjoyed spending time with his family, especially his grand children and great-grandchildren. He loved to travel, taking several trips to Europe with family and friends. He spent many hours on the shooting range competing in bench rest matches, winning the Washington State Hunter Benchrest Championship at 200 yards one year.
Wally was predeceased by his parents, George and Anna, his brothers Owen and Randall, his sister Mary Ann, and his wife Ruth. Wally is survived by his children Edward, Leonard and Phyllis; grandchildren Evan, Kristen and Erik; great grandchildren Siena and Logan, and his long time companion and best friend, Gretchen Fleming.
Wallace was active in the Lutheran Church all of his life, having attended Redeemer Lutheran in Richland during his original time in the Tri-Cities and ever since his return in 1979. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to the Redeemer Lutheran Church Memorial Fund in Wallace’s name.
“Man’s flight through life is sustained by the power of his knowledge.” Austin “Dusty” Miller.
The obituary of Wallace George Ruff
Wally was my boss for about two years at N Reactor. Font of information, caring of his employees and the site, a gentleman of the old school.