Jan. 8, 1944 ~ Dec. 27, 2021
Robert Leonard (Bob) Ruckman passed away at Pioneers Medical Center in Meeker, Colorado, on Dec. 27, 2021, following complications from an abdominal aneurysm. He previously had a stroke in August 2021 which left him paralyzed on his right side, and he was currently residing at the Walbridge Memorial Convalescent Wing in Meeker. He was 77 years old.
Bob was born to Ray and Clara Ruckman at the original St Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado, on Jan. 8, 1944. He was raised and attended school in Meeker, Colorado, until high school graduation in 1962.
Following graduation, Bob attended Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, for a year, leaving because he said it was “too cold up there.” He began a second college year at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado, but left to enlist in the Army on March 10, 1964.
In the Army Bob was trained as a nuclear weapons technician and spent time at both Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, and Sandia Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Following his training, he served as a nuclear weapons electronics specialist at the U.S. Army Depot in Fischbach, Germany.
While in Germany, Bob met his future wife, Bonnie, in November 1966. She was in a study abroad program at the University of Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France, which was about an hour from Fischbach. They met through friends and Bob proposed a short three weeks later. It wasn’t quite love at first sight but pretty close!
When Bob was discharged from the Army in February 1967, he left Europe and moved to Bonnie’s home town of Oxford, Indiana. Because Bonnie was a student at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, and would be finishing her degree there the following year, he decided that it would be a good place for him to pursue the rest of his college career as well. But because Bonnie could not leave France until the end of the school year in June, Bob lived with her parents, whom he had never met before, until she came home. Her mother announced that he was the son they had never had!
Bob and Bonnie were married on July 29, 1967, in Oxford, Indiana, and established their home first in Lafayette, Indiana, and later in Oxford. While Bonnie finished her education and then taught school, Bob worked at Purdue as an electronics technician in the Bionucleonics Department and began taking classes at the Purdue College of Technology.
In August 1970, Bob received a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in industrial supervision. The couple then moved to Bob’s home state of Colorado because he missed the mountains. They bought a home in Golden, Colorado, and Bob worked as a maltster for the Adolph Coors Company.
In 1972, Bob had the opportunity to return to Meeker and went into partnership with his brother, Jim, and their friend, Jack Holzberlein. They became Holzberlein-Ruckman Construction Company, later Ruckman, Incorporated. The company was primarily involved in home and small business construction.
Following the economic downturn in the 1980s, the construction business was closed and Bob went to work for the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Department in January 1985. He was employed as a detention officer but was later promoted to jail administrator. He remained in that position until his retirement in June 2006
Following retirement, Bob served as a substitute teacher in the Meeker school system and also worked for the Ninth Judicial District Court as a conservator and friendly visitor.
After Bonnie also retired in 2013, the couple bought a motor home and spent the winter months in Arizona. Bob loved building and repairing and was very good at just about anything. He enjoyed traveling and most of all loved spending time with family, especially his grandchildren.
Bob was a senior member of Meeker Fire and Rescue and was a firefighter and EMT beginning in 1974, serving the citizens of Meeker and eastern Rio Blanco County in this capacity for 40 years. In other community activities, Bob was a member of the Meeker Community Choir, a 9Health Fair volunteer, and a member and past president of the Meeker Oldtimers Association. He served on the Rio Blanco Search and Rescue Team, was a Red Cross volunteer and CPR and First Aid Instructor, served on the Safehouse Board, and was a past vice president of the Meeker Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to his bachelor’s degree, Bob also received an Associate of Applied Science in criminal justice degree at Colorado Northwestern Community College.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents and his brothers, Benton (Benny) and George (Joe) Ruckman. He is survived by his wife Bonnie (Copas) Ruckman of Meeker; his son Ron (Lisa) Ruckman of Pinedale, Wyoming; son Ben (Jolene) Ruckman of Windsor, Colorado; granddaughter Taylor (Orlando) Carrillo of Laramie, Wyoming; granddaughter Sydney Ruckman of Powell, Wyoming; and grandson Sean Ruckman of Pinedale; his brother Jim (Sue) Ruckman of Grand Junction; brother Jack (Elaine) Ruckman of Reno, Nevada; plus many much loved cousins and nieces and nephews.
The family is planning to have a celebration of life next summer and will announce details later. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Bob’s name to Meeker Fire and Rescue, PO Box 737, Meeker, CO 81641. Donations will be used to fund EMT certification training for new EMTs.
The family knows that many people have stories they like to share about Bob and would invite everyone to send their written stories to Grant Mortuary at PO Box 333, Meeker, CO 81641. The stories will be kept and shared by the family.