Celebration of the Life of James Ruebel by Michael Maggiotto

Michael A. Maggiotto
October 23, 2016

            Good afternoon, I’m Dr. Michael Maggiotto, Professor of Political Science and former Dean of the College of Sciences and Humanities.  Thank you for joining in this celebration of the life of our friend, colleague, mentor, teacher, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother and son, Jim Ruebel.
           We miss you, Jim.
           And that is only fitting, because you lived a life that merits missing. We miss your passion for us and what we care about.  We miss your passion for education and the care you took to use every teachable moment to its fullest. We miss your wit, your humor, your awful puns.  We miss your stories, date-lined Rome.  We miss your big, happy grin, your laugh, and the twinkle in your eye when you found just the right zinger to prick a bubble of bombast. I agree: In vino, veritas. Hoist another red one!
You were a son of Cincinnati, who became an Eli “Everyman.” You were a classicist who could operate a “dozer,” a highly regarded Honors College dean, and a proud jock.  To the end, you embraced life with courage, dignity and joy, with Connie, the love of your life, at your side.  You played more roles than Tom Hanks, and played them better, because they were the raw reality of life: your life.
           I knew you for 13 wonderful years – 13 years of meetings and phone calls; of budgeting and horse-trading; of Plans A, B, and C, then D, E, and F; 13 years of big dreams, notable successes, some genuine WOWs! and a few things that we’d both rather forget.  But through it all, you remained an optimist. “No” meant “not yet” or “not this iteration of the idea.” At the same time, you were a realist.  You knew the difference between human foibles and human folly.  That informed the way you allocated your time and resources and how you administered your college. You would have made a great National League manager!
           In those 13 years, what I recall most fondly were our lunches.  They were always spontaneous, even though sometimes we actually had an agenda.  We were each other’s sounding boards, each other’s safety valves.  We’d solve the problems of the world in the car.  The university’s problems took much longer and were punctuated by plenty of grins and eye rolls, a story or two that were really metaphors, and at least one “sic transit gloria” reminder. Somehow, though, we always left time to discuss the really important things, things like: should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame? In these days of hundred mile per hour chuckers, Pedro Martinez’ change-up; and what kind of poem should be written about Theo Epstein and sabermetrics?  A conversation with you was always a treat to be savored, like sipping some of your favorite Scotch, Chivas Regal. I will miss our conversations.  I truly will!
           I will miss your kindness, your caring, your selfless devotion to family and friends, the special place that your students occupied – students who often became life-long friends, mentees and, sometimes, even colleagues.  You were a humanist, not just by training, but from the heart as well. And it was from that joyful humanity that the river of your passions sprang.
           In celebrating your life today, we affirm and embrace your passions.  By doing that, for a few moments, we may once again feel your presence among us. Let that be what the song says it can be, “the gift we give ourselves.”