James N. Ruthenburg '40
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Jim Ruthenburg, a member of the Class of 1940, died on July 28 at his home in Evansville, IN. He was eighty-six.
Jim came to Amherst via Cranbrook Preparatory School where he was a member of both the football team and wrestling teams. In transferring these high school athletics to college levels, Jim tried mightily but was either too light for the gridiron or too heavy for the mat. Nevertheless, he trained rigorously – a discipline in which we all commiserated with him as the rest of us smoked like mad and drank beer like crazy. “Barsi” – Barsolotti’s – was our cultural and social habitat – a far cry from the training table discipline which Jim tried to observe but which was, I am afraid, vitiated by his less committed buddies.
“Sleepy”, a nickname easily derived from his laid back manner, pledged the Gamma Chapter of Psi Upsilon soon after arrival at Amherst. He enjoyed fraternity life, particularly the later years when he roomed at the house with Bob Hottensen and Bud Brodhead. Although the fraternity provided readily adaptable friendships, he enjoyed a wider group including J. J. Corral, Al Kaupe, the Dobsons and many others.
Came graduation, marriage to his long time sweetheart from Smith, Flea Bonn, service with Uncle Sam, return to Evansville and a business career with Kent Plastics where he became COO of its Ball Division. With four wonderful children and grandchildren as well, he and Flea lived a wonderfully satisfactory and productive life.
Jim was what it was all about. He was the archetype of the all-American, not the capital letter football type, but the wonderfully dimensional man who inspired confidence and affection wherever he moved.
—John Brodhead ’40