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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.

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October 2017

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Telephone: 860-619-0422
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Cost: $260-$345pp

Where:
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Sponsor: Manor House Inn
Telephone: 860-542-5690
Contact Name: Kristen Perlman
Website »

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Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 860-619-0422
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Cost: $40.00

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
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Sponsor: Bart's Tree Service Comedy Series
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Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “Paradigm Shifts,” a group exhibition featuring paintings by Charles Arnoldi, Ricardo Mazal and Manuel Mérida.  The show opens...

Cost: Free

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Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Cost: free

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Canfin Gallery
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Cost: Free

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The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
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View map »


Sponsor: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Telephone: 203-438-4519
Contact Name: Emily Devoe
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Cost: $260-$345pp

Where:
Manor House Inn
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Sponsor: Manor House Inn
Telephone: 860-542-5690
Contact Name: Kristen Perlman
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Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 860-619-0422
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Cost: $75.00

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Rd
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Sponsor: Ingersoll Auto of Danbury World Music Series
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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
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Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Canfin Gallery
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Cost: Free

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WCSU Midtown Campus
181 White Street
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Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Rd
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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
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Cost: $12.50

Where:
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80 East Ridge Rd
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Cost: $15

Where:
WCSU Midtown Campus
181 White Street
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Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “Paradigm Shifts,” a group exhibition featuring paintings by Charles Arnoldi, Ricardo Mazal and Manuel Mérida.  The show opens...

Cost: Free

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66 Elm Street
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Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
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Cost: free

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Art opening Fri October 6 from 6-8pm of new art work by Sebastian Tillinger an actor/artist of recent abstract paintings.  Tillinger has appeared in such Hollywood movies as "The Wolf of...

Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Rd
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 860-619-0422
Contact Name: Scott Bond
Website »

More information

On Thursday, October 19, 2017, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm,  Fairfield County Wedding Concierge will hold their first networking event for the Fairfield County bridal vendor community at Bespoke...

Cost: $10 in advance and $15 at the door

Where:
Bespoke Designs
5A Sconset Square
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Sponsor: Fairfield County Wedding Concierge
Telephone: 203-864-5084
Contact Name: Gayle Szuchman

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Four-time Grammy Award nominee and multi-platinum selling sax-man Boney James needs no introduction to contemporary jazz fans.  The gifted saxophonist, veteran of...

Cost: $60.00

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


Sponsor: Moffly Media Evening of Art, Wine and Jazz Series
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Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “Paradigm Shifts,” a group exhibition featuring paintings by Charles Arnoldi, Ricardo Mazal and Manuel Mérida.  The show opens...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

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The arrival of the recent works of Jylian GUSTLIN is always a joyous affair. One can rely not only on a definitive maturation, as evidenced in her new and beautifully rendered works,  but by...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Art opening Fri October 6 from 6-8pm of new art work by Sebastian Tillinger an actor/artist of recent abstract paintings.  Tillinger has appeared in such Hollywood movies as "The Wolf of...

Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Rd
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 860-619-0422
Contact Name: Scott Bond
Website »

More information

Mary Wilson is one of the founding members of the Motown legends, “The Supremes,”  who recorded twelve No.1 hits from 1964 to 1969  including “Where Did Our Love...

Cost: $57.50

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


Sponsor: Pepsi Rock Series powered by xfinity
Website »

More information

The Department of Theatre Arts will present "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" in the Studio Theatre of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake...

Cost: $20

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave. Extension
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “Paradigm Shifts,” a group exhibition featuring paintings by Charles Arnoldi, Ricardo Mazal and Manuel Mérida.  The show opens...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

The arrival of the recent works of Jylian GUSTLIN is always a joyous affair. One can rely not only on a definitive maturation, as evidenced in her new and beautifully rendered works,  but by...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Saturday, Oct. 21   Innovation Day, 1 – 5 p.m. Discover, Dabble, Do-It-Yourself at Wilton Library’s annual Innovation Day! Join us for a festival of making, creating and demonstrating....

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Telephone: 203-762-3950
Website »

More information

Get into the Halloween spirit while exploring the ways in which unexpected household objects can be transformed into magnificent sculptures and festive decorations! Create a pumpkin using yarn,...

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

Art opening Fri October 6 from 6-8pm of new art work by Sebastian Tillinger an actor/artist of recent abstract paintings.  Tillinger has appeared in such Hollywood movies as "The Wolf of...

Cost: free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Rd
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 860-619-0422
Contact Name: Scott Bond
Website »

More information

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Cost: $55.00

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


Sponsor: Pepsi Rock Series powered by xfinity
Website »

More information

As part of its 2017-2018 concert series, Friends of Music will host the Zorá Quartet on Saturday, October 21st. The group of artists were winners of the 2015 Young Concert Artists...

Cost: $35, Children 18 and younger enter free

Where:
Kusel Auditorium at Sleepy Hollow High School
210 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

The Department of Theatre Arts will present "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" in the Studio Theatre of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake...

Cost: $20

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave. Extension
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to announce “Paradigm Shifts,” a group exhibition featuring paintings by Charles Arnoldi, Ricardo Mazal and Manuel Mérida.  The show opens...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

The arrival of the recent works of Jylian GUSTLIN is always a joyous affair. One can rely not only on a definitive maturation, as evidenced in her new and beautifully rendered works,  but by...

Cost: free

Where:
Canfin Gallery
39 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: Canfin Gallery
Telephone: 914-332-4554
Contact Name: Jean-Claude Canfin
Website »

More information

Show More...
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