Obituary of Robert Frederick Ruth, Jr.
It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Robert F. Ruth, a remarkable man who lived a life filled with adventure, dedication, and love. He was born on 20 August 1944 and left us on 6 November 2023, leaving behind a legacy that will be cherished forever.
Robert was a true hero and combat veteran who served his country with honor and valor as a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force. His father was a decorated WWII and Korea Naval Aviator, so in some respects, he was doomed to fly from the very beginning. Wary of pitching runways in the dead of night, he opted for static, non-movable ones. He flew many different fighter aircraft, but his favorite was his last, the F-15 Eagle, the preeminent air dominance fighter of his career in which he would be awarded his Command Pilot wings. His commitment to defending our nation's skies was unwavering, and his bravery inspired all who had the privilege of knowing him. During his 20-year Air Force career, he had 14 duty station assignments and fostered a shared sense of adventure with his family. His last duty assignment was as an F-15 Squadron Commander at Clark AFB, the Philippines.
After retiring from the Air Force, Robert continued to soar to new heights by piloting jumbo jets for United Airlines. Although no longer able to do barrel rolls or high-g maneuvers, his passion for aviation was undeniable, and he brought joy and safety to countless passengers during his distinguished second career.
Education was a cornerstone of Robert’s life, having earned both an undergraduate and master's degree in applied mathematics from Stanford University. A prolific reader of all genres, he instilled a joy of reading his children continue to enjoy today. His thirst for knowledge and intellectual curiosity were truly remarkable.
Beyond his professional achievements, Robert was a beloved husband to Vicki, sharing a deep and enduring love that served as an example to us all. Together, they built a life filled with happiness, joy, and shared adventures. “Don’t believe a word they say” he would often utter before introducing Vicki to his squadron mates; it was readily apparent that he was a thoughtful and caring wingman that was highly regarded by all.
As a father, Robert was a source of guidance, support, and unconditional love to his children, Brent (Barbara) and Kelli (Brian). His wisdom and nurturing spirit helped shape their lives, and his memory will live on in their hearts forever. He was able to know his grandchildren (Lars, Alexandra, Ryan Ashley (Joshua)) and great grandchildren (Grace and Joshua).
In his retirement, Robert pursued a unique and charming passion as an alpaca rancher in Elizabeth, Colorado. His love for these gentle creatures grew and brought joy to the community. The ranch with views of Pike’s peak became a place of beauty and tranquility.
Bob touched the lives of many with his kindness, generosity, and infectious laughter. He will be deeply missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.
A memorial service to celebrate Robert’s life will be held next year in South Dakota at the Black Hills National Cemetery where he will be interred with his parents and brother. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Puppies Behind Bars, a cause that Robert and Vicki held dear to their hearts. For donations in his honor: Support PBB (puppiesbehindbars.com)
Let us remember Robert for the remarkable man he was—a hero in the skies, a scholar, a loving husband and father, and a cherished gentleman alpaca rancher. May his spirit continue to soar in our hearts forever.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Robert Ruth, Jr., please visit Tribute Store