Remembrance by: David Lee Goodwin —
I was blessed to get know both of these wonderful people in my teens. I was industrious at an early age doing odd jobs in the Hassayampa Hills Subdivision area of Copper Basin Rd. I was referred to the Ruffner’s from a previous job and met these wonderful people. I performed several odd jobs for them over a summer or five. Soon I was getting referrals from the Ruffner’s and was in awe of the glowing praise I received from Mr. and Mrs. Ruffner.
My grandfather, being retired, would sit on the front porch of their Copper Basin Rd home, waiving to the passing vehicles and watch the world pass by. One day, after school, as I approached the house I heard laughter and looked up only to see my grandparents with Mr. (Budge) and Mrs. (Elisabeth) Ruffner having a jovial and engaging conversation on the porch. Budge, as I was to call him and Elisabeth, from that day forward (a first in my young life of calling an elder by their surnames) soon had me closed mouth and blushing ear-to-ear from the praise they heaped upon me for the work I had done. I learned, out of their concern, they had stopped by as there had been a lapse of time that my grandfather wasn’t at his “post” waving to his “passer-bys”. His heath was problematic at that time and that was the reason of not being at his post that late Summer and Fall.
From time to time I would come home to hear that Budge and Elisabeth (together or separately) had stopped by or was there “chatting” with my grandfather. Those times Budge was there, I heard many interesting “tales” listening to the two of them talk about their war service, back roads of Arizona (my grandfather crawled all over the county-side in an old 1946 Willy’s jeep; Budge went on a trip or two), local news, jokes, politics, and whatever else was the topic of the day as the “passer-bys” did just that, with a wave from us all.
I came home from school one day and my grandfather, as usual, was on the front porch reading The Prescott Courier and I saw Budge had died on the front page. All my grandfather stated, in a gravelly voice, was, “the world sure lost a good man”. I was left speechless.
That night our evening meal was quiet, my grandmother finally announced she was going to make something to take to Elisabeth. For the first time ever, without words my grandfather and I, with my grandmother’s instructions, helped prepare a casserole dish, which took a natural course over time to be a common thing in our household.
When I was nearing high school graduation and an awful time in my life, Elisabeth was ever supportive on the occasions I would run into her. We talked about my worry of going to college and she pointed towards getting the people I needed for my path forward towards my education. She wrote an eloquent letter of recommendation I was to include with my college application that once again left me speechless.
My second year of college, my grandfather was “winding” down with failing health and we soon lost him. I came home heart-broken from college and had a beautiful personalized note of condolence from Elisabeth. Later that week Elisabeth and I had a chance to talk when I stopped by to return her dish. Soon I became embarrassed due to being an emotional mess, which she dismissed. Our talk left me with a new perspective of life, death and love that I will hold in my heart forever.
I am lucky I had met this beautiful and supporting person that took time out of her life to support me and I will deeply miss her.
For the family, friends, and the Prescott community, my heart goes out to you.
As another states, “We all will miss the great influences that you have shared Elisabeth and your brilliance and contributions to our community”.