Jeff Ruby, a real Gem

This evening I attended a fund-raiser, as a photographer, for the Jeff Ruby Foundation. It was a huge event held at Jack Casino in Cincinnati. Honestly, I was not excited about going. One of my favorite Sunday evening events is sitting at home in my sweats, eating pizza with my family. But duty called. And now, I am glad I went.

I learned a lot about Jeff Ruby, a well-known, flamboyant Cincinnati icon. Yes, he showed up in a colorful jacket with a spring green scarf tied around his neck. Yes, when he put his hands on the podium, his four or five rings and diamond studded watch nearly blinded me. But also yes, he has a great story.

Ruby was a troubled kid. He was failing school and getting drunk by the time he was 12 years old, following closely in the footsteps of his alcoholic mother.

At age 15, he decided to go it alone. 

After sleeping under the boardwalk in Asbury Park, New Jersey, for a while, Ruby managed to work enough to pay for a tiny room in a house that he shared with senior citizens. He starting supporting himself.

Every morning before school, Ruby worked at Perkins, where he ran the grill and became a master at making eggs.

By his senior year, he was a straight-A student, captain of his football team, undefeated at wrestling, and says it is all because one man was there for him.

Ruby’s football coach took him under his wing. He said it was the first time in his life he wanted to make someone proud. 

Several serendipitous things happened and eventually Jeff Ruby ended up in Cincinnati. He was a huge Reds fan and Cincinnati was his city of choice. 

As they say, the rest is history. In 1991, Jeff Ruby’s first restaurant, The Precinct opened. It is the longest-running fine dining restaurant in Cincinnati. Ruby’s steaks have made him a household name. 

But that is not his true claim to fame. Jeff Ruby believes in giving back. He has a huge heart for kids with no father role model. Ruby considers himself a father figure to countless children he mentors. 

“If you got enough disposal income, you should give some of it back to the community that gave it to you in the first place.” States Ruby. 

And he certainly has. And he plans to continue, in a big way.

I was a bit star-struck this evening, seeing multiple local TV personalities as well as Cris Collinsworth, Andy Dalton and Coach Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals. I also was thrilled to see Urban Meyer and Chris Mack. Musical entertainment was provided by Kool & the Gang, Kid Rock and Mr. Lee Greenwood. Yes, he most certainly did sing “I’m Proud to be an American”. The crowd went crazy. 

But the real star of the evening was Mr. Jeff Ruby. He did not need his fancy rings and diamond-studded watch in order to shine. He does that all on his own, every day of the week.

Author: Rebecca Hendrixson

Hello, I'm Rebecca. I am a wife and mother and freelance writer. I love to share honest thoughts, anecdotes, incidents and encouragement. I am documenting my one year of being 60 years old. Join me on the journey. And please leave comments or send me an email. I will respond. We are all in this together. Come be my comrade.

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