James D. 'Jim' Ruff
Everyone’s Favorite Teacher
CLYDE — James "Jim" Douglas Ruff, 77, born in Waynesville, underwent a change of address Wednesday, April 12, 2017, when he left his temporary earthly home for his eternal Heavenly Home.
He was the son of the late John Henry and Ruth Underwood Ruff. In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by one brother, John F. (Freddie) Ruff. He graduated from Waynesville Township High School in 1958 where he was a member of the baseball team that was undefeated during his senior year conference play. Ten years previous he participated in the first official “Little League Baseball” organization in Haywood County where he played for the “Tannery”. He was a huge fan of Atlanta Braves baseball.
In the year of 1976, Jim designed Haywood County’s first official flag during the 200th year celebration of the birth of our nation. The flag flies daily in front of the Haywood County Courthouse in Waynesville.
Jim received his B.S., M.A., and ED.S. Degrees from Western Carolina University. His career in life revolved around service to others. During his life he was a YMCA Counselor and a School Director for Big Brothers of America. He was the Head Start Education Director for Haywood and Jackson counties. Later, he was the Grant Writer for Mountain Projects, Inc. when Haywood County Section 8 Housing Assistance Program and Senior Centers of Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain Counties were created. He was the first Director of the Haywood County Public Transportation Program.
He taught school in Jacksonville, Florida, for ten years before returning to Haywood County where he taught elementary and middle school, retiring in 1999 as assistant principal. For nine years Jim and Zeata enjoyed giving up their spring breaks from school to take as many as 48 students and adults on education tours of Europe. Jim also worked 10 summers at Western Carolina University where he was Principal of the Cullowhee Experience, an international program for gifted students, the first program of its kind in the United States.
Upon retirement Jim and Zeata continued their journey in life by traveling and selling artwork in juried shows across the southeastern states for 15 plus years. He was an active member of Maggie Valley United Methodist Church where he served on the Administrative Board and various committees and mission teams.
Jim is survived by his wife, Zeata Pressley Ruff; four children, Becky Moss, of East Flat Rock, North Carolina, Tracy and his wife, Debbie Conner, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Travis and his wife, Kim Conner, of Bennettsville, South Carolina, and Tyla and her husband, Jason Moody, of Maggie Valley, North Carolina; grandchildren, Kayla Conner, of Charlotte, Beau Conner, of Bennettsville South Carolina, Kirby Conner, of Bennettsville, South Carolina, Madison Moody, of Maggie Valley, Kaden Conner, of Bennettsville, South Carolina; nephews, Johnny Ruff, and his wife, Karen, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, Tim and his wife, Betty Jo Ruff, of Waynesville, grand-niece, Skye Ruff, of Waynesville; grand-nephew, Cody Ruff, of Waynesville; honorary grandson, Joe Gore, of Clemson, South Carolina.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, April 17, 2017, at Maggie Valley United Methodist Church with the Revs. Richard Buff and Erma Bond officiating. The family will receive friends immediately following the service at the church.
Memorial may be made to Maggie Valley United Methodist Church, 4192 Soco Road, Maggie Valley, NC 28751.
Wells Funeral Homes & Cremation Services of Waynesville is in charge of arrangements. An on-line memorial register is available at “Obituaries” at “www.wellsfuneralhome.com”.