Rene Ruiz, a retired Bowling Green State University professor who fled Cuba in 1961 to escape the communist regime of Fidel Castro, died April 29 in his home in Sylvania Township. He was 86.
His wife, Diane Ruiz, said he died from complications of prostate cancer.
She said her husband told her he had been a classmate of Castro’s at the University of Havana, and had been one of the many supporters of the dictator after the revolution.
However, Mr. Ruiz, like many Cubans, became disenchanted with the communist leader and fled the island. He joined his two young sons in Miami, where he worked odd jobs to support them. The boys had fled earlier and lived with their maternal grandmother, she said.
“He needed to get out of Cuba because the revolution was not what my husband envisioned,” she said.
Mr. Ruiz, who was a lawyer for the Cuban government, went to the United States in 1961, representing boxer Benny “The Kid” Paret, and never returned to the island, Mrs. Ruiz said.
Mr. Paret, who had won the world welterweight title twice in the early 1960s, died in 1962 following an unsuccessful attempt to defend his crown. His death was witnessed by a national television audience.
Mr. Ruiz was born May 25, 1927, to Rosa and Crescencio Ruiz. He received master’s degrees in public administration and international relations and a doctorate in law from the University of Havana.
In the United States, Mr. Ruiz later was a translator for the court system in Washington. Later, he moved to New York City, where he worked for the welfare department and attended New York University.
After he received doctorate degrees in social science and romance languages, he was offered a teaching position at Bowling Green State University in 1967.
Mrs. Ruiz said her husband primarily taught Spanish at BGSU, but he was an instructor in other departments. He retired in 1994 but remained on the staff for three more years.
“He loved his students at Bowling Green,” she said. “He stayed in touch with many of his students after he retired.”
He married the former Diane Goddu on Nov. 21, 1969.
Surviving are his wife, Diane; sons, Rene and Arturo Ruiz; four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the Walker Funeral Home, 5155 Sylvania Ave., where Scripture services will be at 7:30 p.m. A funeral Mass will take place in Miami.
The family suggests tributes to the Rene Ruiz Scholarship, BGSU Foundation Inc., Mileti Alumni Center, Bowling Green.
Contact Mark Reiter at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6199.
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