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My dad died today in our house, a month or so shy of his 70th birthday, from lung cancer.  I’m writing about it here because I loved him, because he was the most influential person in my life along with my mom, and I want everyone to know about him.  But I write about him in this public space for a second reason I’ll get toRip_4_2.

Rip Ruhlman was born in Cleveland and spent most of his adult life as an ad man, a copy writer and eventually creative director and an owner of the Cleveland agency Lang, Fisher & Stashower, which became Liggett-Stashower.   He loved this city, he loved his work and his colleagues. He never missed a deadline.

He loved his friends.  He was the kind of man, we were saying today, who, when a close couple divorced, remained best friends with both of them.  Not surprising for the man who remained best friends with his ex-wife, my mom, Carole, of West Palm Beach, who was at his side today.

But I write about him here, on this food blog, because he was the spirit of generosity and hospitality.  He always thought of others first and was always the last to the table making sure everyone had everything they needed before he sat.   He loved food, loved, loved to eat, loved to drink, loved to feed others.  He was never happier than when he was serving someone else. I dedicated my book, Making of a Chef, to him, “provider of the feast,” because he was that, both literally and spiritually.   He was bounty itself.  He was the ghost of Christmas present, and I got to be with him all the time. 

But it’s most important for me to write about him here to acknowledge to those readers who have found some value in my work, that were it not for him, and the way he lived his life, I would not have been able to take the risks I needed to do what I do now.  He encouraged me to pursue what I loved, and I knew he would be a safety net if things got bad.  What little I have done, would not have been done, without him.

I cannot help but be moved almost to tears by the above photograph, which Donna took in Maine on Rip’s 60th birthday.  Rip with his granddaughter, ever the parent, holding the child’s hand as she looks over the edge into who knows what, emboldened to do so because of the anchor behind her.

Goodbye, Dad.  I love you.

(Stand Up 2 Cancer)

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283 Wonderful responses to “Richard Morgan Ruhlman 1938-2008”

  • jjob80

    MIchael,

    So sorry about your dad. There’s a famous quote… “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. (Abraham Lincoln)

    Even though your father lived to 70, it’s of course still too short, but it sounds like he experienced and shared the fullness that life had to offer. His body may be gone but he lives on through you and your children.

  • ekarlin

    Your eloquent and loving tribute to your father was matched by the heartfelt condolences expressed by the above comments.
    I wish to offer my own words of support to you in this sad time. May these positive expressions lift you up and carry you into the future.

  • swillmonkey

    My heart goes out to you Michael. We’re not too far apart agewise, my father died 10 years ago this Labor Day weekend of lung cancer. He overcame a lot in his life, but he could not quite smoking. It was a year long ordeal that I would not wish on anyone. I hope you find a way to grive, it is so senseless. My sincere condolences.

  • Lyndon

    Michael,
    I am so sorry about your loss. Thank you for sharing a beautiful tribute to your father.

  • Natalie Sztern

    Michael remember my donation? who knew that two weeks ago my own mother-in-law would be diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the young age of 78…I can’t describe my devastation so I can only imagine your grief, that of your children and wife and mother.

    Unfortuately i am only at the first stage of grief: that of denial, even tho she has only months left;she has been my mother for thirty of my fifty-one years.

    Having your father be with you during his last days is an act you will always be grateful for having done because I know, without knowing, that your father passed feeling he was safe and secure and surrounded by his family, and clearly his daughter Donna.

    having lost both of my parents early in my twenties and then early thirties; the loneliness gets harder not easier, but having my father die at home gave my mother the strength to let him go, as it will give you strength.

    It is so fucking hard to lose a parent, that these are probably the only times when words mean nothing. My thoughts will be beside all the Ruhlmans as you go about the week because we are embarking on the same path you have just ended.

  • VictoriaB

    You were fortunate to have such a father; from what you say about him, I surmise he would say that he was the lucky one, to have you for a son. Your beautiful, articulate tribute to him does him great honor. You look a lot like him, Michael. My condolences to you and your family in your loss.

  • Elly

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Michael. Your father sounds like he was an amazing man. This was a great way to pay tribute to and honor him.

  • Frank Mancuso

    So sorry to hear about your dad. I lost mine a year ago last week, and know how painful it is. I’m sure he was quite proud of you.
    FM

  • Robin Black Miller

    My deepest condolences to you and your family, Michael. He must have been an amazing man, and I’m always moved when men write lovingly about their fathers. Thank you for sharing him with us all.

  • Jean

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I was so moved by your words because it’s obviously you have tremendous admiration and a deep love for your father. My condolences to you and your family.

  • Chris

    A profound loss cannot be soothed with words, but my most sincere and heartfelt sympathies are with you.
    Tip a glass in his honor and make his favorite meal.

  • Lydia

    My deepest sympathy….I lost my own dear father in March so I know it won’t be easy for you, but I cherish his memory as I’m sure you will cherish his.

  • Jeannie

    Beautiful words and it sounds like he was surrounded by family when he passed which is the best gift that you could have given him. Thank you for sharing this and from your description it seems his spirit has always existed in your writing and will continue to!

  • Sandy White

    Dear Michael,

    Your tribute to Rip is perfect. It made me feel better to read it.

    You are a fine family and Rip was very proud of all of you with good reason.

    Love to you all.

  • Paige

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my dad this year too and understand the ache you must feel right now.

    Your tribute to him was beautiful and it is memories like the ones you’ve shared here that will help you mourn and heal.

    Deepest sympathies,
    Paige

  • jo

    So sorry Michael, loss is never easy, but it sounds like it was a life well lived and more importantly a life well remembered.

  • Phil

    What a wonderful tribute to your father, Michael. My heart goes out to you in this difficult time. Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. She would have been 83. We lost her four years ago, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her wonderful spirit, which I keep with me and celebrate each and every day.

  • Broadsheet

    Your tribute to your Dad truly reflects what a terrific job he did. The most important job anyone can ever have – being a loving parent. I’m sorry for your loss. My Dad is the same age, and I couldn’t bear losing him.

  • Victoria

    My dad was a rock too. He died one month shy of his 85th birthday, which I had been planning to celebrate in a big way. He lived 11 years longer than my mother, the British war bride he saw in person only three times before he went back to marry her. After he died, I found a small suitcase in the attic with two parcels inside. One had his letters to her during WWII; the other had hers to him. He preserved them in perfect condition for me. At his funeral service I said, “As Albus Dumbledore told Harry Potter in Book II, ‘To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure’” I say that to your father also. May he find peace now and may you find great joy in your memories even though you will long to see his face and hear his voice for the rest of your days.

  • Darcie

    Michael, my deepest sympathies to you and your family. May the wonderful memories comfort you.

  • Tags

    I’m sorry about your Dad, Michael.

    My family will lay their prayers at his feet, confident that he’ll use them as wisely as he did his worldly gifts.

  • Andrea

    This is a lovely tribute to your father. Thank you for sharing him with us, and best wishes to you and your family.

  • amyjul

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. My thoughts are with you and your family, hoping that you all find comfort in wonderful legacy your father has left.

  • Glenn

    So sorry for your loss, but thank you for the eloquent post about your Dad. We all wish we could have met him. My wife & lost both our fathers this year, and they too were exceptional in many of the same ways that you describe. As sons of astounding fathers, we have a lot to live up to, but their examples give us the recipe.

  • Don

    Thank you for these few eloquent words that paint such a warm and vivid picture. Your father touches others’ lives still, even in death.

  • cybercita

    Dear Michael,

    I did not have a good father. You were lucky to have a great one and blessed to be able to appreciate him. My condolences on your loss.

  • FoodPuta

    Michael, A great essay describing your father. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like the world lost a good one. Very sorry for loss.

  • Laura J.

    Michael,
    I am so sorry about your loss. I have been where you are — my mother died two years ago at age 73. While my heart was and still is broken at her passing, I am so honored to have had her, her love and her care, in my life.

    Your tribute demonstrates the love you share with your father. That love will carry you through this difficult time.

    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Laura

  • Wilmita

    My sincerest condolences to you and your family.

    My mother died at the end of May this year. The pain of her loss is still with me of course.

    However, the honor of having had her as my mother will never leave me and sustains me as I work through my grief.

    Having the privilege to be the son of such an honorable man, I shall hope it would be the same for you and give you strength during this difficult time.

    -Wilmita

  • ntsc

    So sorry.

    If he was the safety net that allowed you to do Making of a Chef, he gave the world an extraodanary story teller.

  • Karin (Grew up in Cleveland and miss it in VA)

    My sincerest condolences to you and your family.

    I was privileged to start my career in advertising back in the days when it was still Lang, Fisher & Stashower. It was a great shop to work for, especially back then and a credit to one’s talent if you got a job there.

    Now I know another reason why.

  • Traci @ Soup of The Day

    Oh, MR — So sorry :(

    This is what everyone always talks about — how do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered the same way you remember your Dad; As someone who loved everyone, and who, in turn, everyone loved back. No matter what. Because love is what matters. It’s the only thing that matters.

    Our deepest condolences to you and your family. I’m so sorry you have lost your father.

  • Adam T.

    Michael, my deepest condolences. Your touching words do honour to your, and to all fathers. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family in these challenging times.

  • barbara

    My deepest condolences to you and your family Michael. It must have been wonderful to have such a man as a father and grandfather.

  • Kevin

    I’m very sorry to read that, Michael. My condolances to you and your family; it reminds me of when I lost my father, it s a very emotional thing.

  • carri

    Thank you for sharing such a loving tribute! It is a beautiful thing that you were able to keep him home with you and your amazing family…our sincerest sympathy goes out to all of you.

  • motoko

    You have honored your father so eloquently….may those memories of him infuse your soul with peace…

  • Cali

    My deepest sympathies go out to you and your family. How lucky you are to have had the benefit of such a loving, giving father. Even in this, a time of great sorrow, I envy that relationship.

  • Katherine B

    Oh, I think you did just touch me right now. It’s incredible to be blessed by someone who loves you so much, which makes their passing so bittersweet. My thoughts are with you & your family.

  • Jessica

    Michael, thank you for sharing your beautiful tribute to your father with us. You and your family have our condolences, know that you are in our thoughts.

  • Susan at StickyGooeyCreamyChewy

    I am so very sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family. Your dad sounds like a wonderful man. I lost my own father to cancer a year and a half ago, and I know what a difficult time this must be for you.

  • Kal Cobalt

    Michael, I have also lost a parent to whom I was very close, and you have my deepest sympathies for your loss.

    How lucky you are to have had such a wonderful man in your life. Thank you for sharing him with all of us.

  • Kal Cobalt

    Michael, I have also lost a parent to whom I was very close, and you have my deepest sympathies for your loss.

    How lucky you are to have had such a wonderful man in your life. Thank you for sharing him with all of us.

  • lisa

    i am so sorry for your loss. please know my thoughts are with you and your family at this time.

  • kylan at red mountain mangalitsa

    Mr. Ruhlman
    Thank you for sharing your father’s memory with us. From your words here and my understanding of you, I know he is a man the world will miss, and an exceptional human.

    I would like to thank your father and yourself for the the inspiration you have been to me. I have become a better son to my remaining parent through my cooking, and my hog ranch. A ranch on which there would be no pigs if it were not for you, and in that case your father.
    Peace be with you Rip

  • Rachel Luxemburg

    Michael, I am so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you, Donna, and the rest of your family in this difficult time.

    When sad things happen, there’s not much we can do but to hold on to each other until the storm passes, and have faith that the sun will shine again. It may never shine quite as brightly, but it will hold the memory of your father’s love for all time.

  • Aaron

    Michael,
    My deepest condolences on your loss and thank you for sharing this here. Sharing your memories of your father keeps his meaning and legacy alive in people that never had the opportunity to know him personally. It will also make me call my father tomorrow and tell him thank you and that I love him.
    thank you,
    -aaron

  • RI Swampyankee

    My deepest and most heartfelt condolences, Michael. A father can only hope to leave the kind of legacy that Rip has left to you, and by extension, all of us.

    You and Donna and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I’ll light a candle for you all.

  • Cameron S

    My condolences. Thank you for sharing your father within those beautiful words.

  • claudia (cook eat FRET)

    oh michael, my heart goes out to you and your family. but how wonderful that you had a dad like rip.

    as sad as it is that he’s now gone, he gets to live on in the fine man you have become…

    i can only imagine how incredibly proud he was of you.

  • Russ H

    I am so sorry for your loss. He sounds like he was a hell of a guy! My condolences to you and your family…

  • Jaye

    I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. I lost my dad at the same age as your dad. Losing someone who has that much influence on your life is tough. Here’s to your dad, may he be feasting in heaven tonight.

  • JoAnn

    How lucky you were to have had a father like this.

    “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” (from an Irish headstone).

    May your memories bring you comfort.

  • Diego

    My deepest condolences Michael. I can not imagine what it must be like to lose a father. You and your family are in my thoughts