Bluefield University celebrates the life of the late Joseph “Joe” Preston Ruddell, a beloved member of the Rams Family who passed away at age 99 in Houston, Texas. A graduate of the Class of 1943, he is now and forever a member of BU’s Sports Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Distinguished Hall of Graduates award with a plaque noting his life achievements outside of the President’s office.
“Joe loved this institution and certainly left his mark on it,” President Dr. David Olive said. “He was most appreciative of his education at Bluefield. He recognized how those two years, when Bluefield was still a junior college, transformed his life and prepared him to further his education and have an impactful career and meaningful life.”
Ruddell was born and raised in Bluefield, West Virginia in 1923. A local student, he enrolled at Bluefield University in 1942. He was also a member of the men’s basketball team during the time of his studies. He graduated the following year with an Associate of Science degree before enlisting in the Naval Flight Training Program.
In 1945, Ruddell graduated from the training program and served as a Navy flight instructor during World War II. Afterward, he continued his education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, better known as Virginia Tech, where he served as captain of the men’s basketball team and completed a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering degree in 1947.
Following college, Ruddell became an engineer in General Electric’s Test Program. He served the company as a sales representative and district manager before retiring in 1989, concluding 42 years of service. He was involved with several projects, including the development of GE’s Vermont and Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plants and the Brunswick Nuclear Station in North Carolina. He collaborated with Virginia Electric Power, Carolina Power and Light, South Carolina Electric, and Duke Power before his career brought him to Texas in 1977.
Ruddell married his wife of fifty-nine years, Patricia “Pat” Conaway Ruddell, in 1949, who preceded him in death. Together, they are parents to four sons: Preston, Larry, Jim, and Bill.
In retirement, Ruddell remained an active member of his community. A servant leader, he took time to tutor students in math, participated in over a dozen mission trips, and served in various leadership roles with his Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs. Realizing the importance of higher education and the role it played in their lives, he and his wife founded the Joseph and Patricia Ruddell Scholarship. Bluefield University students have benefitted from this generous endowment for over a quarter of a century at his passing.
“Joe wanted Bluefield to continue making an impact on the lives of countless students, just as it did for him,” said Olive. “He will forever be remembered for his bountiful generosity and for the many he assisted through scholarship support and charity.”
Those wishing to make a gift in memory of Joe Ruddell and continue his impact on students with scholarship assistance may do so by visiting www.bluefield.edu/giving