Joseph Ruther, OFM
1908 – 1984
Fr. Joseph Ruther, OFM, was born in Newark, N.J., on Oct. 17, 1908. He worked in his father’s drug store until he was 21 and then entered St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y.
He entered the Province’s novitiate at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., in 1933 and professed temporary vows the following year. In 1937, Fr. Joseph made his profession of solemn vows and was ordained a priest in 1941.
After ordination, Fr. Joseph was assigned to St. Bonaventure College in Allegany, N.Y., to teach mathematics to the students in the army student training program. He also worked in the college’s library and served for many years as a bookbinder for Fr. Irenaeus Herscher, OFM. Except for one year spent in Callicoon, Fr. Joseph spent his entire priestly life at St. Bonaventure.
In 1973, he retired from his positions as associate professor of mathematics and assistant librarian and worked full time in the bindery. He either bound or supervised the binding of more than 50,000 volumes. Fr. Joe was a humble, unassuming friar with many talents and interests. He loved classical music, and his hands and fingers produced beautiful music from his flute and tuba.
He created many artistic sculptures, and his nimble fingers designed and created beautiful afghans. He was generous with his time and always available to help the students. Fr. Joe’s natural shyness disappeared with a one-on-one situation.
Fr. Joseph died Oct. 2, 1984, at St. Francis Hospital in Olean, N.Y. He was nearly 76 years ld, a professed friar for 50 years and a priest for 43 years.