Remembering former LC Director and LookUp founder Judy Ruggie

Former Leadership Cleveland Director (1983-1992) and Look Up To Cleveland Founder, Judy Ruggie, 83, passed away at her home in Montana on Saturday, January 16, 2021.

The full obituary as published in The Plain Dealer from Jan. 21 to Jan. 22, 2021:

“Mover and Shaker Judith Marie Ruggie, 83, died peacefully at her home in Hamilton, Montana on Saturday January 16, 2021. Judy possessed a rare talent for making a positive impact on the lives of others. “Firecracker,” “Bundle of Energy,” and “Classic” are words frequently used to describe Judy by those who knew her. Judy was born on September 28,1937 in Cleveland, Ohio to Joseph and Stella Bobincheck. She attended South High and Bowling Green University. During the commercial aviation boom of the 1950’s Judy’s sense of adventure led her to Chicago to become a flight attendant for United Airlines. The early 1960’s found Judy back in Cleveland working at Higbee and Co., discovering a love for decorating and planning. At Higbee’s, Judy also discovered her husband-to-be, Joseph Ruggie, a relationship that led to her spending the next few years in Ithaca, New York, working and raising children while Joe attended Cornell Law School. After law school, the family moved to Shaker Heights, Ohio, where Judy began to shine as a civic leader. Her keen eye for detail and passion for community led her to leadership roles in the Shaker PTA and in the management of civic events such as Shaker’s popular “Very Square Affair.” Judy joined the Greater Cleveland Growth Association in 1984 as director of Leadership Cleveland, a program designed to cultivate understanding and collaboration among Cleveland’s foremost business, government, and community leaders. Over the next 10 years, Judy developed Leadership Cleveland into a powerhouse program that contributed to Cleveland’s celebrated comeback by forging positive relationships among the region’s top leaders. Leadership Cleveland alumnae from this era include former governors, senators, Congress members, state legislators, mayors, and chief executive officers of Cleveland’s major business, education, medical, cultural, and non-profit organizations. Not wanting to neglect Cleveland’s youth, Judy also developed “Look Up to Cleveland,” a program that exposed emerging high school leaders to complex, real-life challenges facing the community. Mentoring young leaders through “Look Up to Cleveland” was one of Judy’s most gratifying accomplishments. Never one to rest on her laurels, Judy embraced a new challenge in 1997, by accepting leadership of the Downtown Development Corporation of Farmville, North Carolina. Over the next twelve years Judy led efforts to enable this rural, tobacco-industry town, to rejuvenate itself through the creation and attraction of new businesses and the revitalization of its downtown. In 2009 Judy moved to Hamilton, Montana, to retire near family. She loved these years, making many new friends and entertaining all those that came to visit her “Red Cottage.” Judy was preceded in death by her daughter Patricia Conley and survived by her sister Patricia Cutshall (Harlan) of North Hampton, NH., children, Michael Ruggie (Tracy Butcher) of Duncan’s Mills, CA, Susie Thomas (Bill) of Hamilton, MT, Peter Ruggie (Elizabeth) of Brooklyn Hts., NY and son-in-law Gary Conley, Cincinnati, OH, and three grandchildren Emilie Thomas, Madeline Ruggie, Max Ruggie and numerous nieces and nephews. The family asks that in lieu of flowers please consider a donation in memory of Judy to the Ravalli County Museum and Historical Society . Memories and Condolences may be shared with the family at
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