Elisabeth Ruffner

Areas of Achievement: 

Honored By

Honored by: Bolding, Betsy
Date submitted: April 22, 2008
Gift: Engraved Paver, Small

In 1940, Elisabeth Friedrich arrived in Arizona from Cincinnati to meet her fiancé's family, the Ruffners, a pioneer family whose Yavapai County heritage began in 1867. After marrying Lester Ward 'Budge' Ruffner, Elisabeth proceeded to make her own mark on Arizona's history for the next 69 years. As a wife, mother and businesswoman she has been licensed as an Arizona Realtor and conducted a professional career as an historic preservation consultant, primarily in Prescott, but statewide and nationally as well.

A dedicated steward of Prescott's libraries, heritage and historic preservation, Elisabeth has been recognized statewide and nationally for her efforts, and has garnered numerous prestigious awards in the process. Among them are the Arizona Culture Keepers Award in 2003; The Cultural Achievement Award from the United States Department of the Interior in 1980; she was appointed by President Gerald Ford in 1977 to be a member of the White House Conference on Library and Information Services, and in 1976 she was awarded a citation as Trustee of the Year from the American Library Association. In 1969 the Prescott Business and Professional Woman's Club declared her Woman of the Year; and also in 1969 she was presented with the Rosenzweig Award from the Arizona State Library Association for outstanding citizen participation in the development of community libraries. After being involved in founding the Heritage Foundation of Arizona in the late 1960s serving as founding president Elisabeth was instrumental in rescuing more than 700 of Prescott's historic buildings and securing their listing in the National Register of Historic Places. She has also served as founding president of the Prescott Area Arts and Humanities Council, Yavapai Heritage Foundation and the Friends of Arizona Highways magazine, and as founding corporate secretary of the Elks Opera House Foundation. Her most recent achievement in the library field was serving as co-chairperson of more than a million dollar capital campaign to expand Prescott's main public library in downtown Prescott.

Ruffner currently hosts both a radio and a public television program, and is chairperson of the Elks Opera House Foundation Capital Campaign to restore that historic theatre. She is on the board of directors of the Prescott Area Coalition for Tourism and the Prescott Downtown Partnership, both of which she assisted in organizing. She serves as a board member of the Prescott Area Arts & Humanities Council and as the chairperson of a city grants committee for arts programs administered through the arts council.

Recent honors Ruffner has received include membership in the first of ten groups of CultureKeepers, a program of the Arizona Historical Foundation and State Historian Marshall Trimble for the Westin Kierland Company which will have selected 100 Arizonans for recognition during the state centennial in 2012. In March 2008, she was honored as a History Maker by the Arizona Historical Society, Phoenix Chapter.

Born into a family business Ruffner married into a small business family and assisted in operating the Ruffner Funeral Home in a historic mansion in Prescott, Arizona for more than thirty years. Her late husband was a reluctant mortician, and so they resolved successfully to sell the business enabling Lester Ward 'Budge' Ruffner to spend his last years as a full time author and highly sought raconteur of history and the contemporary scene.

A salutary part of Ruffner's life is working for and with her three children all of whom now reside in Prescott. She shares in the publishing business of her eldest daughter, has worked until recently as receptionist in the office of her second daughter and as bookkeeper for her son. In addition to her three children, Ruffner has eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.