Best-selling author and financial advisor Howard Ruff passed away on Saturday, November 12, 2016, at age 85. Ruff is survived by his wife Kay,13 of their 14 children (9 biological, 5 adopted), and their 79 grandchildren and 48 great-grandchildren. I consider myself to be one of those “survived by’s” too. He brought me into the hard-money movement as a speaker when I was just 30 years old.” He was my mentor, my colleague, and my friend.
Perhaps best known for his book How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years, an influential New York Times best seller that sold more than 3 million copies, Howard also authored many other books on financial and political issues. He predicted the rise of inflation in the mid-70s and early 80s, and was an original “Gold Bug” promoting investments in precious metals. His famous quote, “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark,” encouraged many to become better prepared for the future.
Howard founded one of the largest financial newsletters, The Ruff Times, with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. He had a gift for simplifying complex financial principles. As Ruff liked to say, he wrote for “Main Street” not “Wall Street.” His national conventions often felt as much like a family reunion as an investment conference. He even used to introduce his entire family at the beginning of each conference. In many ways, FreedomFest is an offshoot of the Ruff National conventions.
For several years Ruff hosted his own syndicated TV show, Ruff Hou$e, where he interviewed influential figures such as Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush. It was as a guest on his show that I met him for the first time. He was also a featured guest on hundreds of radio and television shows, including Good Morning America, The Today Show, Donahue, Regis and Kathy Lee, Crossfire, Nightline, Oprah, and more.
Ruff co-founded an influential political organization “Free the Eagle,” that promoted free market policies and candidates. Through “Free the Eagle” he helped convince President Ronald Reagan to send Stinger missiles to the Afghan freedom fighters. This led to the eventual withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan, which some say contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Ruff started many successful companies. He was a self-made millionaire. Twice. He lost it all. Twice. He often said he learned more from his failures than from his successes. He wasn’t afraid to take risks and when he messed up he ‘fessed up and then made up. He liked to say, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich was better.”
Howard was no stranger to hardship. His father died tragically when Howard was just 6 months old. Howard was raised by his mother who supported her two sons, Howard and his older brother, Jim, as a seamstress.
Although his main career was in the financial and political arena, Ruff was a gifted musician with a great passion for music. He toured the world in the 1950s as a baritone soloist and announcer with the Air Force band and Singing Sergeants. Later he considered it a great privilege to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as a guest soloist, and also with the Philadelphia Orchestra and National Symphony. One of his most treasured accomplishments was recording his album Howard Ruff Sings in the early 1980s, featuring the Osmond brothers and the BYU Philharmonic and A Capella Choir as backup.
A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ruff came from pioneer stock. At age 18, he served a two-year mission for the LDS Church in the Eastern United States. He would often say, “I’m a practicing Mormon, and I’m going to keep practicing until I get it right!”
Ruff is known for his dry sense of humor and inexhaustible telling of stories, jokes, and one-liners, crediting the success of his marriage to the fact that “we were both in love with the same man.” He even asked his children to put “I told you I was sick” on his gravestone.
Of all his many accomplishments, Howard cherished most his role as a husband, father, and grandfather. He adored Kay, his wife and partner of 61 years. In addition to their biological children, he and Kay had big hearts and an open-door policy, bringing dozens of teenagers into their home for days, weeks, months, or sometimes even years. They adopted five of them.
The funeral will be held Monday, November 21, 2016 at 11:00 am at the LDS American Fork East Stake Center, located at 825 East 500 North, American Fork, Utah. A viewing will be held Sunday, November 20, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Wing Mortuary 118 East Main Street, Lehi, Utah, and again at the LDS Stake Center the morning of the funeral from 9:00 am to 10:45 am.
More information about Howard Ruff can be found at www.HowardRuffLegacy.com. Condolences to the family and personal memories of him can be submitted through the website. Ruff was a strong supporter of Family Watch International (FWI) and Kay has requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made to FWI through the same website. For more information contact Sharon Slater at 480 560-3165.
Howard Ruff is preceded in death by his father, Rex Wilson Ruff; his mother, Rena Braley Ruff; his brother, James Ruff; and his son, Ivan Joseph Ruff. He is survived by his wife, Kay Felt Ruff (yes, her maiden name combined with her married name was the source of many corny jokes); his children Larry (Jennifer) Ruff and their ten children; Eric (Janine) Ruff and their six children; David (Deon) Ruff and their nine children; Pamela (Rick) Patterson and their five children; Sharon (Greg) Slater and their seven children; Patty (Andy) Simpson and their ten children; Anthony (Kellie) Ramon and their five children; David (Cathi) Steinberg and their five children; Liza (Doug) Spencer and their seven children; Timothy (Brooke) Ruff and their seven children; Debbie (Lars) Rasmussen and their four children; Terri Lynn (Kaleigh) Bond and their two children; and Megan Ruff.