Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Ruffner earns the 'Arizona 'Historymakers' achievement

[Source: Ken Hedler, Daily Courier] --Elisabeth Ruffner, who arrived in Prescott as a bride in 1940, said people in her hometown of Cincinnati revered their city's history. Ruffner, 88, became interested in historical preservation that year when her late husband, Lester Ward "Budge" Ruffner, went to work as a partner in a funeral home in a Victorian home on South Cortez Street. She said she helped to save the building, which dates to the 1880s. She continues the enthusiasm to this day, in some cases helping to preserve and restore buildings that she predates, such as the Hassayampa Inn. The hotel, which dates to 1927, displays a Governor's Award that she received in 1987 for historic preservation in the rehabilitation/restoration category.

Ruffner said she and Prescott architect Bill Otwell have helped to secure National Register of Historic Places designations for the Hassayampa Inn, the Elks Opera House and other buildings in Prescott. Ruffner has provided "inestimable" help in preserving the hotel, General Manager Tilden "Skip" Drinkard said. "Let's say 'priceless,'" Drinkard continued. "What Elisabeth has done is help us establish a real credible history of this hotel." Ruffner is due for another honor March 29 when the Historical League Inc. of the Arizona Historical Society honors residents who have contributed significantly toward preserving the state's history. The league will honor Ruffner and five others as Arizona Historymakers at the black-tie dinner in the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale.

The press release on the event cites Ruffner for more than 50 years of "dedicated effort and expertise" to the City of Prescott and Yavapai County. It mentions her efforts to establish a community hospital and public library. Ruffner said she founded the auxiliary of Prescott Community Hospital - now Yavapai Regional Medical Center - in 1943 - and helped to write the bylaws for the hospital association. Three years earlier, Prescott women sought her help because she was new in town to establish a new library building, replacing the Carnegie Library, Ruffner said. The state Historical Society sought nominees for Historymakers from every historical society in Arizona, said Patricia Faur, who handles its publicity. The society receives 90 to 100 nominees a year. "I have lived a good life in this little town, and I am continuing to serve it," Ruffner said.