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CW4 William R. Ruth, USAR

William Ruth, 57, a veteran of two wars and of nearly 30 years as a social studies teacher, died in the September 11 attack on the Pentagon. 

An Army chief warrant officer, Ruth lived in Mount Airy. On the evening of September 10, he had presided over his first meeting as commander of his local VFW post, where he is being remembered as a good friend, an avid Redskins fan and a motorcyclist who enjoyed riding in Maryland’s rolling hills. 

“He’d do anything for anybody,” said auxiliary member, Dottie Norwood. His absence for the past week has hurt terribly. “It has hit everybody hard,” she said. 

Ruth served in the Marines during the Vietnam War, where he was a helicopter pilot. He would later tell friends of the missions he flew, evacuating the wounded and the dead. 

After he left Vietnam, he received a Master’s degree and taught for nearly three decades, most recently at John T. Baker Middle School in Damascus. He was a voracious reader and taught deep lessons in history, said one of his colleagues there, Linda Gross. 

“He was an absolute intellect,” she said. But he also was a caring mentor, taking kids on field trips and helping younger teachers, she said. 

He served in the Army Reserve. When the Persian Gulf War broke out, he was pulled out of the classroom and sent to the Middle East. 

In 1997, Ruth retired from teaching and took an Army job at the Pentagon.When news of the attack broke, Gross said she couldn’t believe that Ruth was at the Pentagon. She chose to hope he was in Canada, closing up his fishing cabin on a river. Now that the reality of his loss is real to her, she said, “I firmly believe he lost his life because he stopped to help somebody.” 

The divorced father of two adult sons, Ruth lost one of them, Chad, in an automobile accident about a year ago. Chad Ruth’s organs were donated and Ruth met his son’s heart recipient. 

His surviving son, Sean, attends West Virginia University.
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