Don Ruh died on January 6, 2023. He was just past his 90th birthday. We published a Coffee With Larry program about Don, and we are finishing up a piece with great quotes from some of his friends over the years. Don Ruh was a coach and educator, but, an educator first. His legacy is building the Mt.SAC Relays and Cross Country into sports institutions, but also Don developed a legacy program from funds of LA 1984 to educate young people in the sport of track & field. It is estimated that over 500,000 young kids went through that program.
This writer was in awe of Mr. Ruh. I can only remember him smiling. Joe Mangan, coach at Foothill College with this writer and coach at San Mateo CC, noted that he had recently seen Don, in November 2022, at the Community College Cross Country Championships.
Please keep Don Ruh, his lovely family, and his friends, in your thoughts and prayers.
(Walnut, CA) It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of legendary coach, Don Ruh. Surrounded by his family, Coach Ruh passed away peacefully early this morning (01/06) at his home in Yucaipa (CA), after battling congestive heart failure for the past 18 months.
Coach Ruh began his nearly six-decade-long relationship with Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) in 1963. He was hired as a professor and second-ever track & field/cross country head coach by Mt. SAC Relays/Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational Founder Hilmer Lodge.
Mt.SAC Track & Field Coaching staff, photo by Mt.SAC TF
Coach Ruh impacted millions of people through his tireless work as a professor, coach, and leader. Under his guidance, the Mt. SAC Relays, Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational, and LA84 Foundation Track & Field Grants grew to become the world’s largest events of their kind. These events promoted the Mt. SAC name/brand throughout the world. His work “set the bar” of excellence that future generations continue to aspire to.
Although officially retired in 1994, Coach Ruh continued his work and support for the college. He continued as the Director of the LA84 Foundation Grant Program (LA84 Foundation/Mt. SAC Relays Youth Days Track & Field Meet and Clinic Programs), Director of the Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational Elementary/Middle School Divisions and Director of the Mt. SAC Relays Munchkin Run.
Dan Shrum, Don Ruh, and Mr. Eagle, photo by Mt.SAC
Coach Ruh was an iconic figure, within the Mt. SAC Community and throughout the world. An incredible selfless leader, he had the innate ability to bring together people from all walks of life. His friendships circumvented the world and made him an extremely well-respected and beloved figure within the cross country/track & field community. One of his greatest peacemaking accomplishments was convincing political rivals, The Peoples’s Republic of China and Taiwan to agree to allowing each nation to compete together at the 1980 Mt. SAC Relays.
It was Coach Ruh’s dream to build a Heritage Hall to tell the Mt. SAC Story. He not only developed the concept, he spearheaded the fundraising for the new museum and campus conference/meeting center. The project came to fruition in 2022, thanks in part to his families generous contribution, to which the conference facility is now named the Ruh Family Educational Center.
Locally, Coach Ruh served his community through his decades-long volunteer work with the Kiwanis Club. He was a member of the Walnut Valley Club, before moving on to the Yucaipa Valley Club after his retirement.
1968 Eastern Conference Champs, photo by Mt.SAC
In 2013, he was inducted into the Mt. SAC Athletics Hall of Fame. Coach Ruh is also a member of the California Community College Cross Country and Track Coaches (5CTCA), Mt. SAC Relays, Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational, and University of Redlands (Football Team) Hall of Fames.
Born in 1932, he recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Coach Ruh grew up in Huntington Park (CA), and graduated from Huntington Park Senior High School and the University of Redlands. He taught at Boy’s Republic (Chino, CA), El Monte High School (El Monte, CA) and Dominguez High School (Compton, CA) before arriving at Mt. SAC.
Coach Ruh is survived by his wife of 61 years, Sandi, children Chrys, Marc (Lani), Erika San Miguel (Rich), Heidi Meyer (Rob), and grandchildren Campbell, Riley, Justin, Greyson, Katie, and Taylor.
Don and Sandi Ruh, they were married for 61 years! photo by Mt.SAC
A celebration of his life will be held on Sunday, February 5th at 11:00 am, in the Ruh Family Education Center at Heritage Hall, on the Mt. SAC Campus. Additional details of the service will be posted on the Mt. SAC Athletics Website at www.mtsacathletics.com/donruh.
In lieu of flowers and in line with Coach Ruh’s lifelong commitment to the students at Mt. SAC, the Ruh family asks that donations be made in support of Heritage Hall to the Coach Don Ruh Memorial Heritage Hall Fund.
Donations may be made online at https://mtsacfoundation.org/donation-pages/kinesiology-athletics-division or by check. Donations by check, may be made payable to the Mt. SAC Foundation and sent to Mt. SAC Foundation/1100 N. Grand Ave./Walnut, CA 91789. Please note “Coach Don Ruh Memorial Fund” in the memo section of the check.
For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.5114.
Coffee with Larry program on Don Ruh: https://www.runblogrun.com/2023/01/coffee-with-larry-don-ruh-the-coach-as-educator-some-thoughts-on-dons-legacy.html