2017 Family Reunion

RUFFNER FAMILY REUNION 2017                                                                                                              

June 16-18, 2017

Approximately one hundred Ruffner cousins descended upon Luray on June 16th for the 2017 family reunion. With torrential rainfall, the day was spent mostly with registration and renewing family acquaintances and meeting new family members who came to Luray for their first visit.  The weather was tempered by a social hour hosted by Bob and Donna Brown.

The early morning clouds on Saturday soon turned to a beautiful sun-filled day. The day began with a bus tour of historic sites in Page County. Local historian and Ruffner cousin Gary Bauserman provided the informative narrative as the bus traveled through town, out to Hamburg and along the Shenandoah River returning to the Warehouse Art Gallery and the Railroad Depot. After a light lunch and time spent downtown, the bus delivered the passengers to the Ruffner House.

At the family cemetery on a knoll west of the Ruffner House, Jim and Judi McNeely welcomed the group and described the transition of the cemetery and the family monument since they purchased the property in 1999. Sam McNeely reflected on the impact of the placement of the monument to the ancestors in June 1997. Reverend Paul Mishler, who presided at the dedication of the monument in 1997, talked about the Mennonite heritage of Peter and Mary Ruffner. He discussed how the Anabaptists were persecuted in Europe which led to immigration by many to America, particularly the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area.

Afterwards, the group proceeded to the Ruffner House for tours of the home and delicious Hors Devours served by a local caterer. Most people moved to the porch and enjoyed the artificial waterfall so well placed around the natural terrain of the property. Afterwards, the group boarded the bus to return to the reunion headquarters at the local VFW. After a period of relaxation, the attendees returned to the headquarters for a social hour hosted by Jim and Judi McNeely.

RFA President Phyllis Hershock welcomed the group to the reunion and reminded them that the association is always looking for members to serve in a variety of leadership roles. The current officers have been in position for an extended period and younger people with new ideas are needed to sustain the organization. Phyllis presented a gift and recognition to Elise Blinn in recognition of her publication of Colours of Friendship in collaboration with Doug Morris, a descendant of Booker T. Washington. The book details the relationship between Viola Ruffner and a young Booker which continued into adulthood. Phyllis also presented RFA Historian Betty Lou Gaeng with a certificate of appreciation for her tireless efforts in authoring the final two books on the genealogy of Elizabeth Ruffner Stover and Benjamin Ruffner, researching family genealogy and her many articles which make our family newsletter a first class publication. In addition, Betty received the status of Director Emeritus of the Ruffner Family  Association.

Sam McNeely made a presentation chronicling the accomplishments of the Ruffner Family in the twenty years since the first family reunion held in Luray in 1997. He began by remembering those earlier Ruffner cousins who had the wisdom and foresight to begin gatherings of family members in Arizona and Illinois. Some of the main accomplishments have been:

  • The publication of six books updating the original genealogy by Doris and Olive Ruffner undertaken in the 1960’s
  • Developing a state-of-the-art newsletter publication distributed quarterly
  • Preserved and restored family burial sites all across the United States
  • Made financial contributions to various landmarks, scholarships and other Ruffner friendly organizations as a result of achieving tax-exempt status from the IRS.
  • Established a relationship with Longwood University in central Virginia to house important Ruffner papers and documents to archive for future reference.

It is quite possible that had the association not been formed twenty years ago a vast multitude of Ruffners would be ignorant of our heritage of the many persons who contributed so much to our American life.

The evening concluded with an excellent banquet served by the Edith-Rebekah Lodge of Luray and an outstanding trivia quiz on Ruffner knowledge developed and presented by the Gary Ruffner family from Mason, Illinois.

Sunday morning’s activities were conducted in the historic Mt. Carmel Primitive Baptist Church in Luray. President Phyllis Hershock presided over the annual board of director’s business meeting. Since no members stepped forward, the current officers were re-elected to their office.  Phyllis thanked Betty Lou Gaeng for her efforts to complete the genealogy of Elizabeth Ruffner Stover and Benjamin Ruffner. This brings to completion the much anticipated listing of all the adult children of Peter and Mary Ruffner. Phyllis also thanked Marria and Elise Blinn for their publication of Ruffner Family Historic Sites Guide Book and The Colours of Friendship.

 After discussion the board voted to hold the 2019 reunion in Prescott, Arizona and the 2021 reunion in Mason, Illinois. Gary Bauserman gave an interesting and informative talk on the Primitive Baptist church in Page County and the history of Mt. Carmel Church in particular. Dr. Kail Ruffner of Grayson, KY delivered an inspiring message based upon memorable experiences we encounter in a lifetime. The meeting adjourned for the reunion picnic.

The reunion picnic was held at Lake Arrowhead with approximately 90 Ruffners and guests in attendance. The menu consisted of southern barbeque and all the trimmings, including three different fruit cobblers. Music was provided by a group of local musicians.

Another successful Ruffner reunion was concluded with members looking forward to the next gathering in 2019 in Prescott, Arizona. Details will be provided once they are formulated.

Enjoy some photos.