Victor – Dr. Leonard Frank Ruggiero, 66, passed away on Thursday, May 2, 2013 in his home after a long fight with a difficult degenerative disease. Len was born in Orange, NJ on January 30, 1947 to his loving parents Helen and Frank Ruggiero. He was their only child. Highlights of his life were his athletic achievements, his loving family, and his long career as a research scientist.
After receiving numerous football and baseball scholarships out of high school, he played football for both Rutgers and Cornell Universities. He went on to earn his doctorate in wildlife ecology from Utah State University in 1975, and he worked for many years in both Washington state and Wyoming for the U.S. Forest Service before achieving his life long dream of settling down with his family in Montana. He worked at the U.S. Forest Services’ Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula as a project leader for the remaining 15 years of his career. He primarily studied the ecology of Canadian lynx, wolverine, martin and fisher. During this time, Len commuted from his home in the Bitterroot Valley where he continued to live out his dreams of raising and riding his horses and fishing on the Bitterroot River. Len was extremely passionate about the preservation of the natural world, and he was unwavering in his dedication to science. He was also genuinely loved and respected by his colleagues, with whom he felt honored to have worked. He retired in 2010 with over a hundred scientific publications and four edited books to his credit.
Len, however, would have undoubtedly cited his family and his thoughtful creation of their home as his greatest achievement. In 1969 he married the love of his life and his wife of 43 years, Debra Ruggiero, with whom he had three children. His dedication to, and love for, his family was unsurpassed. He also held a special place in his heart for the handful of dogs he raised and trained throughout the course of his life. Len will be remembered as an incredibly strong, compassionate, wise and loving father, husband, and friend; and he will be so very missed by the many whose lives he touched. He is survived by his wife and his three children Jory Ruggiero of Bozeman, MT and Colin and Casey Ruggiero, who continue to live and work in Missoula.
Condolences and messages for the family can be sent to www.whitesittfuneralhome.com.
Memorial service details have yet to be determined.