MOUNT GILEAD — Bobby Ruhl Jr. not only lost his father earlier this year, he lost his best friend.
Former village Police Chief Robert D. “Bob” Ruhl Sr. died peacefully on Jan, 8, at home surrounded by his family, following a battle with cancer. The Galion native was 72.
“It wasn’t just a typical father/son relationship. He was my best friend,” he said.
“But my mom (Vicky) was his best friend.” The couple was married for 49 and a half years after meeting on a blind date.
A fundraiser was held March 3 at Handlebar Ranch to assist his wife with expenses.
“It was overwhelming. I knew that he knew a lot of people.”
About 250 people attended the event.
“He never met a stranger … all walks of life. It didn’t matter what ethnic or social status, rich or poor. He treated everybody that way,” his son said.
Ruhl served the village for 28 years, until his retirement in 1993. Father and son also had a business, B & B Lawn Care.
The family thanked the village police and fire departments for going “over and above” during the days after his father’s death. They also are grateful to Roger Beck and the Handlebar Ranch Archery Club, which he, his dad and another man founded, for hosting the fundraiser.
“Really, we’d like to thank the whole community,” Bobby said.
Rachel, the youngest sibling, echoed that sentiment.
“It was kind of a speechless thing. The love and support were absolutely wonderful,” she said.
“As the baby of the family, I did a lot of things with my parents. I’d go riding with them on their Yamaha all over Ohio. We hit a lot of ice cream shops on day trips.”
Rachel recalls squirrel hunting and fishing trips to area lakes with her father, an avid outdoorsman.
“I just remember getting gas, getting the worms and I’d get my little treats,” she said. “He took all the neighborhood kids under his wing and they thought the world of dad.”
Robyn said he “was beloved in the community. Everybody at the service genuinely had a story to tell. He was always giving.”
Bobby recalls hearing countless stories of his father even from those he encountered on the job.
“Him being a cop as long as he was, he wrote a lot of traffic tickets. It’s funny to hear people who received those tickets still gracious to him. They still respected him and it’s a good feeling to hear that. He had compassion for people.
“He was always smiling. He was just a happy person,” Bobby said.
A police officer’s job also produces lasting friendships.
“Law enforcement of that day was more than just partners on the job. They’re lifelong friends,” he said.
Robyn remembers her dad helping people with repairs or letting them borrow tools.
“He was just always good to people. He never felt he was better than anybody and always made everybody feel like you were all that mattered at that moment,” she said.
Even as he lay in a Columbus hospital bed in his final days, Vicky said her husband thought of his family.
“He’d call to make sure we got home. He was a very caring person; always ready to help somebody. He was loved by everybody, especially his family,” she said.
Reach Conchel at 419-946-3010, extension 1806; or at firstname.lastname@example.org.