His carvings Bird man

Joseph A. Ruther, O.F.M




Biography of Fr. Joseph Anthony Ruther, O.F.M.

    Fr. Joseph Anthony Ruther was born to William Ruther and Dorothea Beckenthal Ruther and given the name Edwin.  Entering the world in Newark, New Jersey on October 7th 1908, Fr. Joe moved around quite a bit throughout his life.  After finishing Ashaway High School in Ashaway Rhode Island, Edwin moved to Oxford, New Jersey, where he worked in his father’s pharmacy; it was 1929.  Edwin then attended St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, NJ.  On August the 26th of 1933 Edwin was received into the Novitiate in Paterson, NJ and took the holy name of Joseph Anthony.  August 27th 1934 Joe took the simple profession of vows and just over three years later, September the 8th 1937, he was solemnly professed. 

bulletBro. Joe at St. Joseph's Seraphic Seminary
bulletPerhaps the birds would recognize Fr. Joe's hat, associating the hat with food.
bulletA young Joe Ruther

          Bro. Joe then went to study at Holy Name College, in Washington, D.C.  On the 9th of June 1941, Joseph Anthony Ruther was ordained into the priesthood at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception by Bishop Corrigan.  Fr. Joe was assigned to Saint Bonaventure College and spent ten years in the Mathematics department and binding books in the book bindery.  From 1951 through 1952 Fr. Joe returned to St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary and then finished his career at St. Bonaventure.  In 1973 Fr. Joe retired as Associate Professor of Mathematics and Assistant Librarian, though he continued in the Book Bindery.  It has been said that Fr. Joe finished, or supervised, the binding of over 50,000 volumes.

bulletFr. Joe in the bindery with his wood carvings on the wall behind him.
bulletFr. Joe, even while very ill, would find time to make his way to the library and bindery.

    Fr. Joe was one of those few souls that would endear himself to you without effort.  His inner light illuminated faculty, students and the many birds that would follow him around campus as he fed them.  Fr. Joe was known as "Scruffy Joe" as he was a true Franciscan and looked only to the natural importance and joy in life.  Fr. Joe kept a mourning dove as a companion and friend, to this day the Archives here in St. Bonaventure has two perches used by Scruffy Joe's flapping friend.

In 1981, Joe’s diabetic condition moved him from the Friary to the Provincial infirmary on the bottom floor of the Friary, though he still found a little time to go to the library and the bindery.  A serious cardiac arrest in November of 1983 kept Fr. Joe in and out of the hospital.  Prostate surgery in September of 1984 went well and Fr. Joe was resting well, but, on Tuesday October 2nd, Fr. Joe died in the evening.

This web site was created by Sean Parmalee as part of an internship for the History Department of Saint Bonaventure University.  Any changes, other than minor editing, are noted at the bottom of the affected pages.

For information about the Archives'  collections contact:

Dennis Frank 
telephone: 716.375.2322

Friedsam Memorial Library
St. Bonaventure University
St. Bonaventure, NY  14778  USA
(716) 375-2323 (general number)
(716) 375-2389  (fax)

Last updated: 19 May 2004