Derek Alan Ruff, 55, was born on Mother’s Day, May 10, 1964, in Fairbanks, Alaska. He left us on December 21, 2019, after a brave and hard-fought battle with colon cancer at home in San Diego, CA.
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Derek was a New Mexico resident most of his life. His early years were spent at Sacramento Peak, Sunspot, NM. He attended Cloudcroft Elementary School and later moved to Alamogordo, NM, where he graduated with the Alamogordo High School class of 1982. Derek went on to attend New Mexico State University where he earned an engineering degree. Derek later moved his family to Las Cruces, NM, where they made their home until a move to San Diego in in 2016. His entire adult life, over 30 years, was spent as a loyal and valuable civil service employee: first for the Air Force at Holloman Air Force Base for over 25 years and, for the past 3 years, with the Navy at Point Loma in San Diego, CA.
Derek lived life to the fullest. He loved the water and the great outdoors. As a child, he loved road trips with his Dad and sister many times each year to visit family in Wyoming. Despite living most of his life in the desert, he was known for his great love of the water. He enjoyed all water sports and camping at the lake. He met his wife, the love of his life, Terri, at Elephant Butte Lake and they were married there at Lion’s Beach on a pontoon boat surrounded by their family and friends in 1989.
Derek loved and supported his alma mater, the New Mexico State Aggies, win or lose, and was known to host a lively tailgate with good food and, always, good beer and spirits. Every year Derek was known for his sumptuous Thanksgiving feast, which drew friends and family alike. No one was allowed in his kitchen as he prepared this delectable meal. He was a dog lover who enjoyed all his pups, especially Ella and Buck, who will miss him dearly, and all their pets who were a big part of their family throughout the years.
Ever the intellectual, Derek, also, had a sense of humor that brought light to so many lives. He graced so many of us with memories that we will hold dear in our hearts forever. His winning personality was contagious, as evident by the many friends he made throughout his life. He never met a stranger, or you weren’t one for long. Gone, but never forgotten, he will live on through everyone who knew and loved him. He was the best man, husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend we could have asked for.
Derek was preceded in death by his father, Alfred “Dennis” Ruff; both, his paternal and maternal, Grandparents; and a special sister-in-law, Lorraine Reeves.
Derek is survived by his wife of 30 years, Terri Ruff, of San Diego, CA; son, Anthony Ruff, of Las Cruces, NM; daughter, Ilea Ruff, and partner, Jack Brooks, of Albuquerque, NM; mother, Linda Ruff, of Alamogordo, NM; sisters, Cindy Matteson, and husband, Wayde, of Apopka, FL; Debbie Spencer of Dallas, TX; Kim Buie, and husband, John, and Kate Jennings, all of Alamogordo, NM; a special sister-in-law, Sharon Miller, and husband,, Ron, of Sulphur Springs, TX; brother-in-law, Graham Lees of Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia; mother-in-law, Dorothy Cole, of El Paso, TX; bonus Mom, Chris Jennings-Collins, of Alamogordo, NM; nieces and nephews: Dustin, Morgan, Blair, Richard, Krystal, Nichole, Brandi, Josh, Mikeal, Emma, Kate, and Chris; great nieces and nephews: Tom, Alex, Daisy, Georgie, Mariela, Jocelyn and Samantha.
The family would like to send our gratitude and thankfulness to special friends Don and Becky Reed, Craig Stroing and Susan Moriarty, all of San Diego, CA, who were devoted friends and caretakers of Derek and the family throughout his illness. Their kindness, support, friendship and love were ever present and unfailing. Also, much thanks and gratitude, to the doctors, nurses and staff at Moore’s Cancer Center in San Diego, CA, who cared for Derek over the past year and a half and provided him with the best care possible.
Celebrations of life will be held Saturday, January 25, 10:00 am, at Beardsley-Mitchell Funeral Home, 1818 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., in San Diego, CA, and Saturday, February 1, 10:00 am, at Getz Funeral Home, 1410 E. Bowman, in Las Cruces, NM.
Please consider wearing blue to honor those who are battling, and those we have lost to, colon cancer.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a charitable donation in Derek’s name to the American Cancer Society, Moore’s Cancer Center, or a local animal shelter.