Published: August 09, 2013
Richard C. Ruiz
May 19, 1931 – Aug. 6, 2013
Richard C. Ruiz, longtime Santa Paula resident and active community member, passed away on Aug. 6, 2013, after a lengthy illness. He was surrounded by his family, including his wife of more than 60 years, Elvera Payan Ruiz.
Richard was born the third of seven children to Julian and Sarah Ruiz in the copper mining town of Ray-Sonora, Ariz., on May 19, 1931. Seeking a better life for his family, Julian made the move to California in 1944 when Richard was just 13 years old. The family stayed in Los Angeles for a short time before settling in Santa Paula. Richard enrolled as a student at Santa Paula High School, spending his summers working in the fields, primarily with tomatoes.
After graduating from Santa Paula High School in 1949, Richard decided to visit his Uncle Frank in Los Angeles. During his visit Richard noticed three recruiting offices representing the Marines, Navy and Army. Richard jokingly noted that the Marines said he was too short, the Navy wasn’t of interest because the then 18-year-old didn’t know how to swim, but all the Army needed was his birth certificate to prove he was old enough to enlist. Richard returned home to ask his mother for the document and never explained his reason for the request until after he enlisted. That was April 1950.
Richard was sent to Fort Gordon, Ga., for six months of training as a cryptologic analyst. From there, he boarded a plane bound for Japan. The young soldier spent the next two years serving first near Yokohama, Japan, then Kokura, Japan. He was honorably discharged from the Army on March 17, 1953, after nearly three years of proudly serving in uniform.
After returning to Santa Paula, Richard began working for Ventura County’s construction labor union. Richard enjoyed sharing the story of how he’d spend his time off driving an old jalopy through Saticoy where he was vying for the attention of Ventura resident Elvera Payan. The couple married in June 1953. Together they raised five children in Santa Paula. All the while, Richard continued with the labor union, holding the position of recording secretary, then secretary treasurer. He retired in 1980.
Richard’s legacy, however, is perhaps best preserved through his service as a nearly 60-year member of Santa Paula’s Mercer-Prieto VFW Post 2043, his membership with the Korean War Veterans Chapter #56, and his heavily active role in Santa Paula’s Little League program. Richard was dedicated to his involvement in each organization. He played a lead role in every Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day ceremony in which the VFW served, and in each commemoration ceremony that marked the end of the Korean War. He proudly served in uniform next to his VFW comrades at each event. In addition, Richard was a driving force in the success and continuation of the Santa Paula Little League program. His focus was on ensuring that every child interested in the sport had an opportunity to be part of a team. His involvement in the Santa Paula Little League program began soon after the league’s inception in 1957. He served as a coach and board member for more than 50 years, and also served as a voice for Santa Paula as a member of the league’s district board.
Richard is survived by his wife of 60 years, Elvera Payan Ruiz, his brothers Julian (Rosie) Ruiz of Camarillo and Frank (Emma) Ruiz of Ventura, his sister Norma (Barney) Lopez of Santa Paula, his sisters-in-law Carol Ruiz and Doris Ruiz of Ventura and his children Mary (Henry) Mata of Fillmore, Richard (Jeanie) Ruiz of Fillmore, Connie (Marvin) Guy of Moorpark, John Ruiz and Daniel Ruiz of Santa Paula. He was blessed with 22 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren, and 2 great-great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by parents Julian and Sarah Ruiz, brothers Vincent and Orestes “Chuckie” Ruiz, sister Nordella Olivas, daughter-in-law Rachel Carranco Ruiz, grandson Daniel “DJ” Ruiz, and great-grandson Vincent Ezekiel Ramirez.
Richard was a member of the St. Sebastian Catholic Church parish.
A viewing will be held on Monday, Aug. 12, from 12- 5 p.m. at the Church of Angels, 600 E. Pleasant St. in Santa Paula. A Rosary will follow at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church located at 427 N. Oak St. in Santa Paula. A funeral mass in Richard’s honor will be celebrated on Tuesday, Aug. 13th, at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church with interment to follow at Pierce Brothers Santa Paula Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers that family requests that charitable donations be made to Santa Paula Little League or the Mercer-Prieto VFW Post 2043.
For map and directions to ceremony locations and to sign the family’s online guestbook, share stories, and post pictures please visit our website: www.santapaulafuneralhome.com and click on Richard’s name located below “Recent Obituaries”.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the family owned and operated Robert Rey Garcia Jr. Funeral Services, Santa Paula 805-229-7054.