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Don V. Ruck PDF Print E-mail

Don Ruck died peacefully in his home on Smoky Lake in the early morning hours of July 7, 2013, surrounded by his wife, Marilyn Bow Ruck, and his five children.

Son of Sistelia Donnini Giovanelli and Walter Ruck, Don was born in 1928 in Iron River, Mich., where he was raised with his beloved sister, Dorothy Ruck Barron.

In the lakes and streams of the Upper Peninsula, he developed a lifelong passion for fly fishing.

After serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, he graduated from the University of Connecticut. As sports editor of the UConn newspaper, he established a reputation as a talented writer, planting the seeds of his 60-year profession in public relations. The early years of his career were spent in Connecticut, where he worked for the New Haven Register, United Illuminating Company, and Connecticut Blue Cross. During these years, he was the driving force behind the founding of the University of Connecticut Foundation for the benefit of UConn athletics, reflecting his dedication to the promotion of college athletics.

In 1965, his passion for sports became his career when he accepted an offer to work for the National Hockey League (NHL), and resettled in New York City. At the time, hockey had been a minor, relatively unknown sport in the U.S. As Director of Public Relations, Don played a pivotal role in the expansion of the NHL beyond its original six teams, shepherding the emergence of hockey as a major American sport. He was later appointed vice president, becoming the first American to hold an executive position with the NHL.

After retiring from the NHL in 1978, he formed his own company to provide public relations services to a wide range of sports organizations, including the Major Indoor Soccer League, the National Football Foundation, and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Don shunned the fanfare associated with his career. More important to him were his commitments to family, friends, and the communities he served.

In 1990, he moved home to the Upper Peninsula to be closer to his extended family and his roots in the North Woods. He dedicated countless hours to improving local community services, and organizing and supporting fundraising efforts for a variety of causes including the Phelps Volunteer Fire Department, the Phelps Volunteer Ambulance Service, the Phelps Historical Museum and the Kep Vorhees Memorial Golf Tournament. He remained a lifelong supporter of UConn, his alma mater.

He was happiest sharing stories, conversation, folk songs, and an occasional game of Zilch with family and friends at the dinner table, at the local pub, or on a neighbor’s “martini barge.” The North Woods will forever be haunted by his warm laughter.

Among his survivors are five children from his previous marriage to Jane Weber Ruck: Cindy Camp, Beth Ruck, Jeff Ruck, Clay Ruck and Dean Ruck; and four grandchildren, Kristi Miller, Tonya Miller, Owyn Ruck, and Tim Henstrand.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his honor to the Phelps Volunteer Ambulance Service (4499 Town Hall Road, Phelps, WI 54554) or to the North Woods Animal Shelter (930 Selden Road, Iron River, MI 49935). A church service will be held at 11 a.m. on July 13 at the Phelps Congregational Church, on Highway 17 in Phelps.

Condolences may be expressed to the family of Don V. Ruck online at

Funeral arrangements by the Jacobs Funeral Home of Iron River.


Tuesday, July 09, 2013 2:46 PM

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