Francis Hugh Ruddle, 1929-2013

Fri, 03/15/2013 - 1:51pm

Frank H. Ruddle, of New Haven, Conn. and Southwest Point Road, Block Island, R.I., beloved husband of Nancy H. Ruddle, died Sunday, March 10, at Yale New Haven Hospital.

Frank was born Aug. 19, 1929 in West New York, New Jersey. He served in the United States Air Force and then attended Wayne State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1953, and then a master’s degree jointly from the Children’s Hospital of Detroit in 1955. He received his PhD in Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1960 and did postdoctoral work at Glasgow University.

In 1961 he joined the Yale Zoology Department where he was an active member, along with a joint appointment in the Department of Human Genetics, until his retirement in 2007. Frank was a renowned scientist, making many seminal discoveries in chromosome analysis, human gene mapping, and development and evolution.

He served as Chairman of the Biology department several times and held endowed Chairs as the Ross G. Harrison Professor and as the Sterling Professor of Biology. Many prizes and awards, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, recognized his outstanding achievements.

Professor Ruddle was a leader in the scientific community serving as a member of numerous NIH review boards, President of the American Society for Cell Biology, and editor of several scientific journals, including the Journal of Experimental Zoology and Genomics. He served 10 years on the board of Science Park, New Haven and several companies. Companies he co-founded included Molecular Diagnostics, Inc. and Molecular Therapeutics, Inc. that became the basis for Research and Development at Miles (later Bayer) in West Haven, Conn., and Asilas Genomics Services. Among his many other contributions to New Haven was his service as a member of the founding board of East Rock Village, a group dedicated to helping seniors live in their homes.

Frank first came to Block Island in 1967 and returned with his family as a renter for two weeks every other summer, usually sailing his 18-foot golden eye, Shamrock, from New Haven. He and his wife Nancy purchased their Southwest Point home in 1993. Frank was a wonderful cook and even made his daughter Amy’s cake for her Block Island wedding. He had a lovely baritone voice and began singing lessons in his late 70s.

He loved sailing, painting, walking Lewis Dickens Farm, and dogs. He will be sorely missed by his Block Island friends.

Frank is survived by his beloved wife, Nancy, of 48 years, his daughters Kathlyn Ruddle (Micah Ball) and Amy Ruddle Shohet (Howard), grandchildren, Alexis Shohet, Calista Shohet, and Leo Shohet, sister, Mary Haenschke (Richard), sisters in law Josephine Chaplin and Kirsten Hartman (Ed Meek) and several nieces and a nephew.

Calling hours will be held at Hawley Lincoln Memorial, 493 Whitney Avenue, New Haven on Friday, March 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. A mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 11 a.m. at St. Thomas More Chapel, 268 Park Street, New Haven, Conn. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The University of Michigan Biological Station at Douglas Lake, 2541 Chemistry Building, 930 N. University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1055, The Block Island Conservancy, or the Nature Conservancy.