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Herman Joseph 'Skip' Ruhe

herman ruhe
Written by Skip's sister, Mary 'There is a an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens, a time to give birth and a time to die.' Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 These thoughts, taken from the first three lines of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, deal with the two endpoints of a life--that is, birth and death. On most memorial stones, one finds the name of the person there interred, and under that, the year of birth and the year of death, usually separated by a dash. In looking up famous people in history, we find immediately following the name, those two same types of endpoints, again separated by a dash. That dash represents the person's life in years on earth--the years between the beginning and end points. So today we think in terms of the dash, of Skip's life and how he loved living. From early on during his childhood in Brooklyn, NY, he pictured himself being a Navy man and a traveler. When he was about 8 or 9 years old, Skip signed a homemade card to our Mom, 'Love from your sailor boy.' (I happened to come upon this card in Mom's house a few years ago; apparently it was a well-treasured keepsake of hers.) As time passed, Skip developed an interest in flying. Who thought the young boy with a passion for making and flying airplane models, even back then with thoughtful precision, would become a Naval officer and a jet pilot? At a cousin's anxious prompting about interviewing Skip regarding his Naval career, I did just that during one of our trips to Temecula a few years ago. A question my cousin Lynn suggested involving his service time had to do with his favorite type of flying and where it took place. His answer to me was that his greatest memories of those years were his his solo jet flights and his hook landings on a carrier, the Bennington, in the Mediterranean. In that answer, Skip also had great praise for the LSO's (the Landing Signal Officers) on the ship, explaining the carrier pilots' lives lay in their hands. This praise for the LSO's was an example of how Skip managed to give credit where credit was due, a quality he had all his life. After his Navy years, Skip went on to a career in civilian life, first as a co-pilot, then a Captain with Trans-World Airlines. Having started back in the 1950's on Navy props, he eventually went on to flying multi-passenger carrying jumbo jets. He was with TWA for 34 successful years of flying. Sometimes he'd make 'stop-overs' in Brooklyn to visit the family before his flights from Kennedy Airport. I noticed how during these stops he'd be sure to take some quiet time, checking charts, weather conditions, and information pertinent to the flight he was about to make. He always took his responsibilities very seriously, a true professional. Somehow, through all these years of such intense responsibility, his family was his proudest identity. His beloved wife Marie (their last anniversary celebrated together was their 54th) and their three children: Ginny, Peter, and Michael--were the inner core of his life. They all got into water-skiing from the family boat, the Aerie, which he docked in Bayville, Long Island near their home. Like everything else of his, the Aerie was a pristine craft, faithfully receiving 'the Captain's' vigilant care. The five Ruhe's later snow skied when they moved from Long Island to Highmount, NY. Skip and Marie hosted many happy guests at their various homes and they loved giving parties. Marie became a bit of a connoisseur with her food prep; and Skip would sit at the piano, or take out his accordion or ukulele and get people singing. Skip, like his daughter Ginny, loved photography. Setting the camera on 'automatic,' as most of us do, was not an option. They both got into light intensity, f-stops, and the other avenues of camera jargon. Around Skip, Peter and Mike learned to handle tools and became quite adept mechanics themselves. In his spare time, Skip continued working on model airplanes, bigger and better than those of his childhood, and for several years became the president of a model airplane flying club in Hemet. He loved to build, whether it was furniture, bathrooms, or his own two-seater Glassair. For years, indications of Skip's varied interests abounded in his home. Magazines and books on air travel and mechanical engineering filled bookshelves and coffee tables. About 9-1/2 years ago, Skip, Marie, and family (which now included Mike's lovely wife Erin and two great kids, Kayla and Kyle) experienced the very sad loss of Ginny--a daughter, sister, and aunt. She was a favorite among her friends and family and well-deserving the status. Five years later, Skip lost Marie and 'devastated' is the only word which comes to mind to describe him in his response to the loss. As some time passed, and as good fortune would have it, Skip re-met Barbara Festa, whom he and Marie had known from their Highmount days. Actually, Barbara had been living in California some years also. She soon became a dear friend, then a devoted companion for Skip; such has been their relationship for the past four years. Unfortunately, much of these four years has proved to be the most difficult time in Skip's life due to the onset and progression of serious illness. Skip was blessed by Barbara's loyal support and with Peter, Mike, and Erin's cooperation and caring trips for groceries, doctor's visits, and for whatever services were needed to keep things comfortable. I thank Barbara and Skip's family for keeping in contact with us. As for my nephews, Peter and Mike, Erin and family, and friend Barbara, this whole experience has shown me once again how love, friendship, and family can make things work. I know thanks are due to all the faithful friends who were able to spare some time for an occasional visit to Skip and Barbara; also to Ben, his son, and his nephew who spent hours giving Skip much needed care in the last few months; to the Hospice nurses and their organization which supervised his care. At this point, as I look back at my brother's life, I find another biblical paraphrase from Paul's second letter to Timothy kind of appropriate: He did his best in the race; he ran the full distance; in his own way, he kept the faith. May Skip rest in peace, and have fun flying with the angels. Visitation: NO VISITATION Address Not Available

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  1. I am truly honored and blessed to have known “Skip” in my life. There are people that come & go in our lives but “Skip” is a one-of-a-kind. He made a Difference in mine. Love you. You will be truly missed.

  2. I have been truly honored and blessed to know and have “Skip” in my life for over the past 4 years. I so enjoyed and loved hearing about his stories of flying. His eyes would light up with any mention of planes and flying. His story & pictures of building his own plane in the basement of his home back on the East coast and flying it to California, what an adventure! Our outings to Applebee’s, Costco and to Tustin. We had such great & wonderful giggles filled with laughter among Skip, Barbara and I. Skip loved to play tricks & surprise you. His compositions of the Birthday song on the piano was special just to that individual. Skip was talented. He loved people & gave attention to those he loved and to everyone he came in contact with. Skip will truly be missed! God Bless You!

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