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Edith Eger

2006 Distinguished Alumnus Award: Robert Ruby, '43

Robert Ruby completed his Whitworth degree in 1943 and went on to earn his M.D. from Washington University in St. Louis. While serving as the hospital director at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the early 1950s, Ruby discovered a lifelong passion for Native American culture. He moved to Moses Lake and set up a private practice in general surgery, from which he retired in 1991. He continued to serve at the Job Corps clinic in Moses Lake until recently.

Ruby has taught courses on Pacific Northwest Indians and authored or co-authored 13 heavily researched scholarly books and one historical novel between 1955 and 1991. He's worked as a cultural advisor for a Hallmark Entertainment Television movie and received invitations to lecture at museums and scholarly meetings throughout the West. He was named Soo Huk Min, or Caretaker of Tribal History, by the Okanogan Tribe in 2003.

Ruby's papers are in the collection of the Eastern Washington Historical Society at the Museum of Arts and Culture, in Spokane. Various Native American tribes benefit from the personal collection that he has gathered in the way of books, art, and priceless artifacts. Ruby and his late wife, Lelia, raised four children, Edna, Robert, Henry and Esmé, all of whom graduated from Whitworth between 1976 and 1981.

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