Chesterton Tribune

Donald J. Ruge, Sr. dies at 86

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Donald J. Ruge Sr., one of the founders of Ruge & Sons Meat in Liberty Township, died Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009, at VNA Horton Hospice Center in Valparaiso.

He was born Jan. 2, 1923, in Valparaiso, the son of William C. and Ethel (Bull) Ruge, who preceded him in death.

On Nov. 23, 1946, in Hobart, he married Bernice Redar, who survives.

He is also survived by four children, Darlene B. (Ed) Jankowski of Valparaiso, Donald J. Ruge Jr. (Peter Carino) of Springfield, Mass., Duane J. (Marie) Ruge of Moorpark, Calif., and Darryl J. Ruge (Dick Gmerek) of Indianapolis; five grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; one sister, Martha May (Robert) Etchason of Chesterton; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by six siblings, William Ruge Jr., Richard Ruge, Byron Ruge, Dorothy Gilmore, Pat Curtis, and Isabelle Preston.

Don was a 1941 graduate of Liberty Township High School and a veteran of the U.S. Army in World War II. It was while Don and his brothers were in military service in Germany that the idea emerged to go into business together. That business became—on Dec. 7, 1946—Ruge & Sons Meat of Liberty Township, founded by brothers Don, Bill Jr., Dick, Donald, and Byron with their father Bill Sr.

“We were really just a bunch of farmers who had done home butchering,” Dick told the Chesterton Tribune in a story published on Feb. 2, 1960.

Father and sons built the original building—with its 20-foot frontage—themselves, cutting their own timber and hauling it to the saw mill. At the same time they were farming 500 acres. But the business, located at 887N 100W, quickly grew and 14 years later, in 1960, the building’s frontage had been expanded to 149 feet and plans were afoot that year for a new addition. Ruge & Sons employed 17 people in 1960 and was slaughtering cattle at a rate of 100 per day.

On July 2, 1979, Ruge & Sons changed hands, when the second-generation owners at the time, Don, Bill Jr., and Dick, sold the business to Bill’s sons, Bruce and Tom, and Dick’s son, Ken.

On Dec. 3, 2002, the business burned to the ground in one of the worst fires in Liberty Township history. But Ruge & Sons rebuilt and remains in business to this day.

Don was also a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church and is remembered for enjoying his many visits to Las Vegas.

A Mass of Christian Burial, Father James Meade officiating, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 14, at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 638 N. Calumet Road. Burial will follow at Graceland Cemetery in Valparaiso.

The family will receive friends from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, at White-Love Funeral Home, 525 S. Second St. in Chesterton, with a prayer service at 5:30 p.m. at the funeral home.

Memorials may be made to the VNA Hospice Center, 2401 Valley Drive, Valparaiso, IN 46383.

For information call 926-1309.


Posted 12/11/2009