On the morning of December 27th, Dr. Robert C. Rugen, passed away of natural causes at 93 years of age. Born on March 8th 1918 in Glenwood, NY to Herman H. and Henrietta B. (Schlobohm) Rugen. He attended PS136 and graduated from Jamaica High School in 1936. After studying law at St. John’s University for 2 years he had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Amel Anderson, a pioneer in Chiropractic who inspired him to become a healer instead of a litigator. He married high school classmate, Berenice Mary Casson in 1941, and graduated in a class of 17 from Logan Basic College of Chiropractic in 1943. Dr. Rugen then spent two and a half years in the U.S. Navy stationed in San Francisco and on the aircraft carrier USS Hornet where he achieved the rank of Pharmacist Mate Second Class.
In 1945 he returned from the Navy to Stony Brook, NY and opened his first practice in Queen’s Village, and soon after another office in Stony Brook. Later he moved the Queens Village office to W42nd St, Manhattan where he practiced until the early 1960’s when the Stony Brook practice became his focus. He helped craft the legislation in 1964 that lead to the lawful practice of chiropractic in New York State and proudly held license number 305.
Living near and working in New York City in his early years, Dr. Bob had the chance to cross paths and meet some of the notables of the 20th Century including: Red Skelton, Buddy Ebsen, Groucho Marx, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, financial giant E.A. Pierce, Nelson Rockefeller, and Erle Painter, chiropractor and trainer for the NY Yankees. He also enjoyed recounting his numerous house calls to a wealthy family in pre-Castro Cuba, and talking about his friendship with organic gardening pioneer, J. I. Rodale.
Life outside the office on Long Island was rich with days spent sailing on his beloved cat boat, horse back riding and of course tennis. Along the way, he managed to own and operate the Station House Restaurant for 6 years, served on the Stony Brook Community Fund, and briefly owned a horse named Snowman who would later become the American Horse Shows Association’s Horse of the Year in 1958 and 59.
In 1970, “Bob and Bern”, moved to East Chatham, NY (Town of Canaan) where he opened what would be his final office location. He continued to see patients there until October of 2008 and retired at the age of 90.
Dr. Rugen won the office of Canaan, NY Town Justice when he campaigned on horseback during the fuel crisis, and then served for 8 years from 1976-1984. He was also a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Stony Brook, a founding member of the Northern Columbia County Rotary Club and a life member of the East Chatham, NY Fire Company.
In addition to his love of Chiropractic, he shared a love of tennis with his wife with whom he became a gold medalist at the NYS Senior Games in mixed doubles three times in the 1980’s. Dr. Bob also won gold and silver several times in the Maine State Senior Games. His final victory was being the over eighty singles champion in 1988. In 1992, Dr. Bob, who was 74 at the time, was a member of the Venice, FL City Men’s 60 and over tennis team that won a national title.
He is pre-deceased by Berenice with whom he enjoyed 61 years of marriage, and his brother, Herman. He and his wife, Berenice raised four children who all survive them: Dr. Richard C. Rugen of Stony Brook, NY, Mrs. Althea C. Liscombe (Arnold) of Moodus, CT, Dr. Robert K. Rugen (Deborah) of East Chatham, NY and Dr. Glenn E. Rugen (Lisa) of Chatham, NY, as well as, 12 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren and companion, Donna Reiley.
He will be missed by countless Columbia County patients and will be remembered by his family and friends as a man who had a healing touch and who loved his chosen profession. In lieu of flowers, donations in Dr. Rugen’s memory can be made to Community Hospice of Columbia Greene, 47 Liberty St. Catskill, NY 12414 or the East Chatham Fire Company, 14 Frisbee St, East Chatham, NY 12060. Funeral arrangements will be private, however, online condolences may be directed to www.wenkfuneralhome.com.