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Richard Ruiz '54 September 20, 2021 11:18 AM updated: September 20, 2021 1:53 PM

Richard S. Ruiz, MD
JULY 12, 1932 – SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

Richard Ruiz was born on the 12th of July 1932, to Luz Stranahan and John Joseph Ruiz in Galveston. The second of three children, his older brother John Joseph, Jr. and younger sister Dolores Morrow, preceded him in death.

Dr. Ruiz was a renowned Ophthalmologist who practiced more than 50 years. He boasted that he never thought about being anything other than a doctor, crediting the sentiment mostly to his father, a family physician on Houston's east side. His dad helped countless people, many who were unable to pay, and their considerable respect and affection left a profound impact on him as a young man.

The summer before high school, Richard met the love of his life, Yvonne. A true example of love at first sight, they enjoyed an eight-year courtship before marrying in 1955. Richard would often boast that marrying Yvonne was the best decision he ever made.

He was a proud graduate of St. Thomas High School where he lettered four years in basketball and established numerous life-long friendships. He was honored with the school's recognition as an outstanding alumnus.

Drive and determination characterized his personality and pushed him to great personal and professional achievements. Immediately after high school, he enrolled at Texas A&M. After two years of intense study, he was accepted into medical school at UTMB in Galveston. Initially unsure of what medical specialty to pursue, as a resident he assisted in an emergency glaucoma procedure on his Aunt Helen and afterwards knew he was hooked on Ophthalmology.

In 1958, he accepted a three-year residency program at Wayne State University's Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit. Despite an eagerness to begin practice and support his family, his father encouraged another year of study. He accepted a retina fellowship at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at the Harvard Medical School and often expressed its benefit to his career. Due largely to his father's example, Richard placed great value in education and generously funded .many scholarship programs.

In 1962, he returned to Houston and began a general Ophthalmology practice in the Hermann Professional Building. He did not limit his practice to just his retina specialty. He wanted to do more traditional doctoring, as his father had before him. That decision provided a broad range of clinical experience that would later enhance his ability as a teacher. Richard went on to create a multi-specialty eye clinic and took on major leadership roles at Hermann Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and St. Joseph Hospital. In those early years, he worked tirelessly to build his practice while pursuing an interest in academics. He secured faculty appointments at both Baylor College of Medicine and UTMB in Galveston and for fifteen years he made a weekly trek to Galveston.

Despite his grueling work schedule, Richard was dedicated to the Hermann Hospital intern and resident training program. His enthusiasm to teach and his deep commitment to Hermann Hospital led to his appointment as "Chief of Service" in 1967 at age thirty-five. At the same time, he continued to build his practice and took on partners to provide general ophthalmology and a variety of subspecialties that enhanced the training program at Hermann Hospital while offering excellence in private practice. The group was established as the Houston Eye Associates. In 1971 he became chairman of the department of ophthalmology for the newly established University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and would serve in that capacity for nearly forty years.

Realizing a continuing need for supplementary funding to enhance the eye service at Hermann Hospital, in 1968 Richard established the Hermann Eye Fund. He proved to be an accomplished fundraiser and over the next fifty years, through many generous donors, provided significant contributions in support of indigent patient care and teaching and research at Memorial Hermann Hospital and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

He truly loved being a doctor and caring for patients. Though reluctant to retire at 87, he was grateful to have been able to do what he so loved for so many years. Just as Richard approached his professional life with tenacity and determination, he likewise pursued family, hobbies, and interests. He relished life and never did anything halfway. Well into his 80's he enjoyed regular early morning workouts at Houston's downtown YMCA and running/walking at Memorial Park. He travelled the world with friends and family to run marathons, hunt big game, climb mountain summits, hike and bike, ride motorcycles, and shoot birds. He was an avid shotgunner and loved shooting sporting clays.

Richard loved people and took great enjoyment with many special long-term friendships. He was a man of considerable dichotomy. Strong in will and personality, he liked things his way and rarely shied from voicing an opinion. He could be a demanding taskmaster who didn't well suffer fools or incompetence. But he also could be a man of incredible generosity, patience, and kindness. He touched many lives in many ways and leaves behind a legacy of which he would no doubt be pleased.

Richard is survived by his wife of 66 years, Yvonne; five children, Roseanna, Kathy, Raymond and his wife Terry, Robert and his wife Donna, Cindy and her husband Richard; and three grandchildren, Rickey, Aly, and Ryan.

The family expresses appreciation to Houston Hospice and the Village of Southampton for their dedication and kindness in his last months.

Friends are cordially invited to gather with the family and share remembrances of Dr. Ruiz during a reception to be held from six until seven o’clock in the evening on Friday, the 24th of September, in the parlor of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston, where a memorial service and celebration of his life will immediately follow in the adjacent Jasek Chapel.

In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests that memorial contributions in his name be considered for a deserving charity.


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