Donald J. Ruge Sr., one of the founders of Ruge & Sons Meat in Liberty
Township, died Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009, at VNA Horton Hospice Center in
He was born Jan. 2, 1923, in Valparaiso, the son of William C. and Ethel
(Bull) Ruge, who preceded him in death.
On Nov. 23, 1946, in Hobart, he married Bernice Redar, who survives.
He is also survived by four children, Darlene B. (Ed) Jankowski of
Valparaiso, Donald J. Ruge Jr. (Peter Carino) of Springfield, Mass., Duane
J. (Marie) Ruge of Moorpark, Calif., and Darryl J. Ruge (Dick Gmerek) of
Indianapolis; five grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; one sister,
Martha May (Robert) Etchason of Chesterton; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by six siblings, William Ruge Jr., Richard Ruge,
Byron Ruge, Dorothy Gilmore, Pat Curtis, and Isabelle Preston.
Don was a 1941 graduate of Liberty Township High School and a veteran of the
U.S. Army in World War II. It was while Don and his brothers were in
military service in Germany that the idea emerged to go into business
together. That business became—on Dec. 7, 1946—Ruge & Sons Meat of Liberty
Township, founded by brothers Don, Bill Jr., Dick, Donald, and Byron with
their father Bill Sr.
“We were really just a bunch of farmers who had done home butchering,” Dick
told the Chesterton Tribune in a story published on Feb. 2, 1960.
Father and sons built the original building—with its 20-foot
frontage—themselves, cutting their own timber and hauling it to the saw
mill. At the same time they were farming 500 acres. But the business,
located at 887N 100W, quickly grew and 14 years later, in 1960, the
building’s frontage had been expanded to 149 feet and plans were afoot that
year for a new addition. Ruge & Sons employed 17 people in 1960 and was
slaughtering cattle at a rate of 100 per day.
On July 2, 1979, Ruge & Sons changed hands, when the second-generation
owners at the time, Don, Bill Jr., and Dick, sold the business to Bill’s
sons, Bruce and Tom, and Dick’s son, Ken.
On Dec. 3, 2002, the business burned to the ground in one of the worst fires
in Liberty Township history. But Ruge & Sons rebuilt and remains in business
to this day.
Don was also a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church and is remembered for
enjoying his many visits to Las Vegas.
A Mass of Christian Burial, Father James Meade officiating, is scheduled for
11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 14, at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 638 N. Calumet
Road. Burial will follow at Graceland Cemetery in Valparaiso.
The family will receive friends from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13, at
White-Love Funeral Home, 525 S. Second St. in Chesterton, with a prayer
service at 5:30 p.m. at the funeral home.
Memorials may be made to the VNA Hospice Center, 2401 Valley Drive,
Valparaiso, IN 46383.
For information call 926-1309.