Here’s to our Uncle Dan – Dan Ruud. He left us too suddenly back in 1989, at a very young age. We miss him yet today.

Ruud; Daniel, 1954Daniel Henry Ruud (1936-1989) grew up on his parents’ farm (Paul and Hilda Ruud) near Eveleth, Minnesota, then moved to Parkville, where he then attended Mt. iron High School He served overseas in Germany during the peace years of the 1950s, married, and had two children (Mike and Jolene). Lived in Cambridge, MN, working as a teacher for the school district in that town. He was active in the American Legion there, earned his master’s degree in education and a pilot license.

Ruud; Paul, Hilda, Gladys, Paul, DanBack row: Gladys Ruud Johnson, Paul B. Ruud, Hilda Ruud

Front: Paul K. Ruud, Dan Ruud

Now that’s the black and white of Uncle Dan. But let’s get to his other colors.

Dan was a happy guy – lots of sunshine when he smiled and laughed and told his jokes. He could weave a good one, that’s for sure. Ethnic jokes, bad puns, and of course, stuff like his favorite sayings. He was known for saying:

“I wonder how the poor people are doing?” (Which he said often when I went on a camping trip with him….and at other times, as well.)

“If you don’t care where you are, you ain’t lost.” (And that was not only on the camping trip . . . just a good general knowledge thing he’d say.)

“No matter where you go, there you are!” (And more of the same . . .)

But there’s nothing like his favorite, and if you can make any more sense out of it than those of us who heard it all his life, then you’re a much better person. Try this one:

“I sure feel a heck of a lot more like I do now than since I came in.”

His laugh was infectious, his smile beaming, and his eyes would twinkle through his glasses.

Color Uncle Dan a bright, shiny yellow.

Dan served in the military in the peaceful years of the 1950s. I never heard much from Dan about those particular years, but he certainly manifested them. He was very active in the Cambridge American Legion, honoring his fellow veterans as much as he could. I remember watching him serving as a color guard in many parades across the state – and he was active in the Legion at the state level. He was patriotic and a dutiful citizen.

Color him red, white and blue.

I spent many late nights sitting up with Uncle Dan in my college years. We’d make up a pot of coffee and discuss the issues of the world. We hit such topics as family, religion, education, sports – and we shared so much. I will remember those nights with great affection.

Color Uncle Dan a deep-thought purple.

Dan and his music was another facet that we all enjoyed. He wasn’t a classical pianist; he could pick out a tune, figure out the harmonies, and then play a fine arrangement of his own. He was most famous for UP A LAZY RIVER, which I tried to emulate – and almost come close to performing with his own style. I will never forget, too, his performance with the North Branch Barbershop group, when the entire choir did a concert as various small town members. There were farmers, mechanics, shopkeepers, and so on… but Uncle Dan was the preacher, and he had to do the entire concert dead pan stone faced still while singing his part – and while the other guys tried to crack him up. We were impressed that they couldn’t do it . . . it also doesn’t hurt that he had a good, strong voice that he shared with more than just his barbershop friends.

Color Uncle Dan musical.

And when it came to family, Dan was as loyal a family member if ever there was one. If there was a family affair, Dan was there. A birthday, a Christmas feast, a celebration, a reunion – Dan was there. He loves his sister Gladys (my mom) and his older brother Paul. He was as close to his brother and sister as any siblings I know – the three of them were a lesson in how that should all work. (Note: Dan was the young one of the bunch.) His two kids were vitally important to him, who he loved to all ends of his existence. He reveled in his aunts, uncles, cousins.

Color Dan a true blue loyal family guy.

Like I said; here’s to our Uncle Dan – Dan Ruud. We miss him yet today.

Dan Ruud 1987  Dan in 1987