Thursday Jul 30 2009
Pair of Rocklin pillars pass
By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
Ruhkala brothers Benjamin, Ruben leave indelible mark
Despite two recent deaths in the Ruhkala family of Rocklin, they will be forever remembered for their stamp on the city. Benjamin Ruhkala passed away at the age of 98 on June 28, followed by his brother Ruben Ruhkala, with his passing July 10 at the age of 97. Both brothers were lifelong residents of Rocklin and owned and operated the Union Granite Company in Rocklin with their other brothers until the late 1970s. “They were like the pillars, the oldest in the family,” Benjamin’s daughter Diane Bell said of her father and Ruben Ruhkala. “We were very lucky that they enjoyed such long and busy lives.” Diane said that her father’s secret to a long and happy life was vinegar and honey in the morning and a martini with loved ones in the evening. Diana said Benjamin would join her for dinner nightly, with a martini in hand, sometimes two. “He did like his martinis,” Diane said. Half a cup of warm water, four teaspoons of honey and two shots of apple cider vinegar, was Benjamin’s secret concoction to soothe aches, pains and sinuses. He was also an avid golf player and a founding member of Sierra View Country Club in Roseville, and enjoyed traveling. From 1944 to 1954, he was a member of the Roseville High School board of trustees and was a charter member of the Rocklin Lion’s Club. “He had a real zest for life,” Diane said. “I think he’ll be remembered for his loving friends and family. No body was a stranger to him.” As one of 12 siblings in the family, Diane said her father was a hardworking quarry man and passed on good work ethics from his father to his own children. “We all really respected their moral standing,” she said. The Ruhkala family has long been prominent in Rocklin’s history. Ruhkala Elementary opened in 2005 and Ruhkala Park at Surfbird Lane and Arnold Drive and Ruhkala Road off of Pacific Street were all named for the family. Until 1976, Ruben and his brothers owned and operated Union Granite Company, which was the last working quarry in Rocklin, located at Pacific Street and Rocklin Road. The following year, Ruben survived emergency surgery to remove cancer from his spine. Hunting in Montana, Ruben complained of back pain. But once at a hospital, doctors couldn’t find what was wrong, Ruben’s grandson Bob Petersen said. Through blood work, a tumor in Ruben’s spine was found and Ruben went into surgery, leaving him in intensive care for 30 days, Petersen said. “It was really amazing. He (the doctor) saved my grandpa’s life,” he said. Ruben was always deeply involved in the community and athletics, Petersen said. He was involved in the Lion’s Club, school board and started Rocklin Sunset National Bank, the city’s first local bank, among other accomplishments. He was also a strong golfer – when Ruben was in his mid- to late-60s, he shot his age four different times in one week. “Ruben is an iconic figure for anyone who lived in Rocklin,” Petersen said. “He’s bigger than life.” Lauren Weber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.