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Russell's Story

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of State College, PA died in his sleep at home on October 14, 2017. He was 91 years old. Russ was born on April 27, 1926 in Allentown, PA, son of Russell C. Ruhf, Sr., and Lucy Nagle Ruhf. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Anne Louise (Cooper) Ruhf; children Marilyn Brady (Concord, MA); Barbara Heller (Boston, MA); Steven Ruhf (Roanoke, VA); Larry Ruhf (Herndon, VA); and Rick Ruhf (Annapolis, MD), eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. In 1944, Russ enlisted in the Navy and trained as a pilot at St. Mary's Preflight in Oakland, CA, Naval Air Station Glenview, IL, and Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, TX. Russ enjoyed telling the story that he earned his pilot license before getting a driver license. With the war ending during this training, Russ left the service in the Fall of 1946. In 1947, Russ enrolled at The Pennsylvania State University, where he graduated with a Meteorology degree. On Russ' first evening on campus, while attending a dance in Rec Hall, he cast his eyes upon Anne Louise, and wasted little time before asking her for a dance. She obliged, and thus began their love story. Each anniversary, Russ would give A.L. a single rose. In 2014, along with the traditional rose, he delivered a note which said, "I wish to record the fact that September 27, 1947 was the most fortunate day of my life and every year only confirms me more strongly in that opinion." Another highlight of Russ' collegiate career was being selected along with five other United States-based meteorology students and six Canadian students to go to Thule, Greenland to work and study at the U.S. - Danish joint weather station. After graduating in 1949, Russ went to work for Bethlehem Steel in Bethlehem, PA. He worked as a chemical engineer and industrial hygienist. As such, he studied air-pollution problems within the corporation, and conducted environmental studies at Bethlehem's coal, iron, and limestone mines, shipyards, and steel-making facilities. He also worked at the Quincy Shipyard, where Bethlehem Steel built the first nuclear-powered ship for the U.S. Navy, ultimately named the USS Bainbridge (CGN 25). Russ worked on the ventilation design and worker-radiation exposures. A project that was closely followed by Admiral Hyman Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy. In 1959, Bethlehem Steel transferred Russ to Johnstown, PA, to start an industrial hygiene program. The program included all aspects of recognizing, evaluating, and controlling environmental problems. He also designed a leaded-steel control program which became standard for the industry, and studied the effects of Teflon thermal decomposition on the health of workers. Russ retired to State College, PA in 1983 after earning a certification in the Engineering Aspects of Industrial Hygiene, and serving the following offices: President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Industrial Hygiene Association and Chairman of the Pittsburgh Section of American Iron and Steel Engineers of which he became the National Director. As a retiree, Russ became a guest lecturer for Penn State's Continuing Education Department, where he taught the history, evaluation, and control of environmental health hazards. He also provided environmental engineering consulting work and was a litigant in occupational disease cases from 1991 until 2014.
Outside of his professional endeavors, Russ thoroughly enjoyed Penn State sports. He served as President of the Penn State Wrestling Club, co-authored "A Century of Penn State Wrestling", and was a charter member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Pennsylvania Chapter Board of Directors. A memorial service will be held at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center at Penn State University, Eisenhower Chapel, University Park, on Saturday November 4th beginning at 1:30 p.m. followed by a celebration of Russ' life. His family will miss Russ deeply, as he was a heckuva nice guy. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to The Arboretum at Penn State, The Pennsylvania State University, 302 Forest Resources Building, University Park PA 16802, or visit arboretum.psu.edu, in Russ' name. Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com.
Published on October 16, 2017
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