Robert Henry Ruf Jr.
May 2, 2005
A memorial service for Dr. Robert Henry Ruf Jr., 73, will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Mountain View Mortuary, 425 Stoker Ave., Reno. A reception will follow.
Dr. Ruf died April 28, 2005, at home after a prolonged illness. He was born and raised in Malden, Mass., to Robert Sr. and Anna Ruf. He graduated from Malden High School in 1950.
The family moved to Ballardvale, Mass., and he graduated from the University of Massachusetts cum laude with department honors as a Phi Kappa Phi national honor scholar. During his sophomore year summer, he became a gold miner in Alaska and discovered one of the best preserved wooly mammoths to date, which is now on display at the Smithsonian Institute.
He received his master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and his doctorate from Cornell University.
He married Patricia Carroll in 1956, and they were married for 48 years. They moved to Reno, where he was a professor of horticulture at the University of Nevada, Reno. He was awarded Teacher of the Year by his students.
In 1968, the Ruf family moved to Somalia, where he taught advanced horticultural practices to farmers. They left Somalia due to civil unrest, and he returned to his professorship at UNR from 1971 to 1974. He became the leading authority on the propagation of the endangered plant squaw carpet, native to the Tahoe Basin. He was also one of the first consultants for the Sunset Western Garden Book series.
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The demise of the horticultural school at UNR and the loss of his test plots due to the Interstate 80 expansion through Reno forced him to change careers.
In 1974, the family opened Greenhouse Garden Center in Carson City. After 20 years, he retired and enjoyed traveling in the family motorhome across the United States and Canada, collecting antiques, and restoring antique automobiles from the 1890 to 1920 era. He and his wife authored a book on Victorian lighting. He was a beekeeper for 50 years and made wine.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and sister, Elizabeth.
Among his survivors are his son David of Carson City; son and daughter-in-law Brian and Tami of Reno; two grandsons; two granddaughters; and nephew Barry Wight and family of Tewksbury, Mass.
A private family burial service will be held at Mountain View Cemetery following the reception.