Thursday, May 16, 2013

Adios mi amigo

My dear friend, Pete Ruff, passed into the loving arms of Jesus on April 15, 2013. He was an officer and a gentleman; a quiet man but a party boy and a lady's man. He was a Texan and a Longhorn. He was born in Midland but passed in Maryland. He was a sailor and a true patron of the arts. He gave me my start in business to which I will be forever indebted to him. He also brought together a group of people who, under no other circumstances would have ever met. So many are my "forever friends". This photo was taken when Pete and I went to see Historic Oella Mill, where we met when he owned it, after he had sold it and it had been refurbished into 270 condos. What a treat it was for me to get to share the experience with him. He was very happy with what they had preserved of the history of the mill, as was I. Pete, you are missed and you will always be in our hearts. 

(A piece of art that Pete bought from me has now come full circle)

I was blessed, because of our Texas connection, to be given Pete's boots. They are Justin Boot Company boots (my middle son's namesake). I also am blessed to have a painting done by Pete; a country house surrounded by a beautiful stand of trees and wide, blue skies. He loved Texas. He loved Maryland. He loved Costa Rica. All places where he had homes. I met Pete in 2000. Here is what a childhood friend wrote about him for those of us who didn't know these great details of him growing up in Midland. He loved talking about Hawaii and the parties he had with Don Ho and his adventures around the world especially in Mexico and Central and South America but Bill has edified us with an even more wonderful insight into this very special man.

I grew up with Pete in Midland. He was in our Cub Scout pack at the age of nine or ten, which is how I first remember meeting him -- at our back door. He was as pleasant and funny then as he later showed as a young man fresh out of the Catholic high schools he attended in Amarillo. I believe he was the star quarterback.

Pete, whose nickname was Speedy, became an associate member of the West Flepanske group created by the late R. Dennis Kelly. The. Name stood for West, Pannill, Fletcher, and Skee, or Kelly. Dennis changed the nickname to Speedre. He played much touch football with us -- in games at which Dennis often played in a Haspel suit and tie.

Speedre stayed with this agglomeration at the University of Texas. I believe he lived on Speedway with Dennis, Roy Merrill, and Hugh West. 

I lost him for a time when he graduated and became a Naval officer ("Mr. Ruff"). But we resumed our friendship when I went to work for the Treasury Department in the spring of 1971 and he opened his importing business in Ellicott City. We made a few trips there to see Pete and his wife, and I think both couples produced babies in 1972. But I moved back to Texas and we lost track again.

I heard from Speedre a couple of years ago when he was organizing a trip with the late Charles Ratliff to Costa Rica. I missed that trip, which I now regret very much. We don't appreciate what's important to us until too late. Goodbye, old friend.

Bill Pannill

No comments: