Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Ruggles Juggles It All

This Ridgefield couple keeps it globally local



Rudy and Sally Ruggles, at their Ridgefield home, will receive the Hope Swenson Award from the Ridgefield Library on April 22.

Photo by Joseph Henry Lipstein

When Sally and Rudy Ruggles married, they had two weddings—one locally and one, a Tuareg ceremony, in the Sahara desert in Timbuktu. Their dual weddings elucidate their combined character as a couple: they are simultaneously locally engaged while also globally inspired and connected. 

Capturing all that Rudy has done as a philanthropist, Harvard graduate, IBM physicist, national-security specialist, world explorer, high-performance race-car driver, book collector, and community leader strains the confines of a magazine format. Fortunately, Rudy is at work on a memoir for his four sons—one of whom created business cards for his dad that reads “International Man of Mystery.” 

Rudy has visited 74 countries and five continents, living his mantra: “Do things that are stimulating, rewarding, and worthy.” His intelligence and engagement are on display when he talks about his work with the Ridgefield Library. “The library is an evolving concept,” says Rudy, whose first task was fixing the wifi in the old building. “It’s not just about the books. Once we flooded the building with wifi, people started bringing their computers. It’s been fun to see Ridgefield Library go through this great transitional moment from a traditional card file system for locating books to a time when those cards became scrap paper by the computers.” 

On April 22, the Ridgefield Library will honor the Ruggles with the Hope H. Swenson Visionary Award. Chris Nolan, the outgoing library director, praises the Ruggles’ contributions: “These are wonderful people, always willing to help—but they don’t always need

their names in lights. Rudy is so bright that his mind always needs a project. He solved the wifi pickle and then continued offering his help with technology when we were planning the new building. We did a lot of science programming with his leadership. His connection to the Morgan Library in New York was a great resource.” Of Sally, Nolan says: “People who own bookstores are naturally curious. She is always eager to learn and meet new authors.” 

Sally and her first husband, who passed away in 1991, opened Books on the Common in 1984. “We wanted it to be inviting, not cold and stuffy,” explains Sally, lighting up at the memory of their first store—a dusty, 500-square-foot space behind Talbots, opened before Copps Hill was even completed. She explains, “Getting the right book to the right person is very satisfying. I loved it when customers would come back and say that was a great book.”  Her three kids were so involved in the store that her son wrote about it for his college-application essay—one of the best the Amherst dean of admissions said he had read. 

After almost 20 years, Sally decided to sell the store. “I didn’t just want to sell to anybody,” she says. Current owners Ellen Burns and Darwin Ellis were long-standing customers and Burns was the store’s accountant, so knew full well the economic struggles of running a neighborhood bookstore. Still, Sally said she wanted them to know exactly what they were getting into, so shared the challenges. Burns joked, “You’re not a very good salesman.” 

Sally and Rudy grew up “across the pond” from each other, on opposite shores of Lake Michigan. Rudy grew up in Winnetka, Illinois, with a father who was a book collector. “Libraries have been an interest since I was a kid,” he says. “We didn’t have the variety of media. I’d ride my bike to the library all the time.” 

Sally remembers a “phenomenal” library in her two-room schoolhouse in the Michigan fruit belt. “Our library had all the Caldecott, Newbury winners,” she says. “Books are talisman. There is something speaking to that child.”

While they never lived Brady Bunch–style because their seven children from their first marriages were grown before they wed, the Ruggles enjoy each other’s children and eight grandchildren. The couple also supports Founders Hall, Danbury Hospital Biomedical Research Institute, and the Hord Foundation, providing scholarships for African-American students in greater Danbury. Rudy remains involved with the Ridgefield Coalition Against Substance Abuse, which he co-founded with First Selectman Marconi.

Because of their love of books, it’s fitting that Rudy and Sally met at Books on the Common. “He always ordered the most interesting books,” Sally says. Rudy remembers asking her out to lunch with his hands “sweating like a school boy’s.” And what about that wedding in the African desert? We’ll have to read Rudy’s memoir to get the full story.

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

            

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

(Taylor) Swift Action

The Grammy-winning star's attention caught by local Ridgefield student

Ten Minutes with Linda Eder

A multi-talented Broadway singer

Art: Living in the Art

Talk with the artists as they actually live in their sculpture––Dec 8-10

Was “Do You Hear What I Hear?” written, well, here?

Let’s Not Meat Up

Bareburger tantalizes with an impossibly good non-meat burger

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

December 2017

Join Sean Anderson, associate curator at the Museum of Modern Art, and artists Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley for an engaging conversation about their collaborative practice. Arrive early to see...

Cost: Free for members or with Museum admission Registration required at www.shop.aldr

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
Website »

More information

First, there was Riverdance, then Celtic Woman, now the popular PBS Pledge show Christmas with The Celts is touring across the U.S.!  The Celts mix lively traditional Irish music and...

Cost: $47.50

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is pleased to present Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley: Your Turn, an architectural environment for two that shapes the occupants’ behavior. In a...

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Look, read, and create with your little ones at The Aldrich! One Tuesday a month, discover the art on view and experiment with materials in The Studio with Museum Educators. Geared towards visitors...

Cost: $15; $12 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
Website »

More information

Sodexo will host a Hot Chocolate Bar with Toppings from 1 to 4 p.m. in the WCSU Student Center Restaurant on the university's Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Students can use a meal...

Cost: $9.75

Where:
WCSU Midtown Campus
181 White St.
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »

More information

The Jane Goodall Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies at WCSU invites the campus community to join them at a screening of the documentary, "Jane," based on the life of Dr. Jane...

Cost: $5

Where:
Bank Street Theatre
46 Bank St.
New Milford, CT
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Sodexo will host a Hot Chocolate Bar with Toppings at The Daily Grind in the WCSU Campus Center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The cost is charged a la carte. For...

Cost: A la carte

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave. Extension
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »

More information

Presented by Fathom Events Cohen and Wolf, P.C. Fathom Events Presents & Movies Series Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies and Sony Pictures Entertainment present, Guess Who’s Coming...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Website »

More information

Wednesday, Dec.13. This festive holiday concert features the Bedford Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Anthony Newman, performing Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. Mr. Newman, a renowned Bach expert...

Cost: $45 per person

Where:
St. Matthew's Church Fellowship Hall
382 Cantitoe Street
Bedford, NY  10506
View map »


Sponsor: Music Committee of St. Matthew's
Telephone: 914-522-5150
Contact Name: Anthony Newman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events
No Events

The holiday season often means time with family and friends. In this mixed-media workshop, join artist Adam Handler to create unique, handmade holiday gifts using paint, collage materials, clay,...

Cost: Free!

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
Website »

More information

WCSU will host a 5 p.m. planetarium show Saturday, Dec. 16, followed by telescope viewing of the sky from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Westside Observatory and Planetarium on the university's...

Cost: Free

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave Extension
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »

More information

As part of the Newtown Savings Bank Fine Arts & Family Series, Ives Concert Park will present the world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir at 7 p.m. in the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall in the Visual...

Cost: Advance tickets $25, at the door $30

Where:
Veronica Hagman Concert Hall
WCSU Visual & Performing Arts Center
43 Lake Avenue Ext., Danbury, CT 06811
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »


Telephone: 203-837-8732
Website »

More information

As part of the Newtown Savings Bank Fine Arts & Family Series, Ives Concert Park will present the world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir at 7 p.m. in the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall in the...

Cost: $25-30

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave Extension
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags