Former Chairman of the Managing News Board of The Daily Princetonian, Robert H. Ruxin ’76, died on Sunday, July 17, at the age of 69.
Ruxin passed peacefully after a six-year battle with multiple myeloma while surrounded by his family in their home in Lexington, Mass.
Dori Jones Yang ’76, a close friend and colleague of Ruxin’s who worked with him on the same managing board, described his kind and personable demeanor.
“He’s soft-spoken and kind. He was very generous and very supportive of other journalists, particularly those under him, including me as well,” Yang recalled. “He was just very gracious and had a lot of integrity when it came to journalism.”
Shortly before Ruxin’s passing, when his condition due to his illness had worsened, Yang organized a Zoom meeting with Ruxin and the rest of the managing board. Every board member made an appearance, in addition to a number of former student staffers.
Peter Seldin ’76, another one of Ruxin’s closest friends and colleagues during his tenure at the ‘Prince,’ remarked on the close connections between their cohort of editors, and what they meant to Ruxin, even towards the end of his life.
“The ‘Prince’ was a very big part of his life and his college experience, so connecting with the dozen of us was very important [for him,]” Seldin said. “He closed the loop there with all of us; maybe that’s one of the last things he really wanted to do.”
Robert Harris Ruxin was born on Feb. 14, 1953, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Dr. Arnold Ruxin and Sherle Ruxin and had a younger sister, Suzanne. Ruxin grew up in Cobleskill, N.Y., where he was a standout student, athlete and journalist.
A three-sport athlete, Ruxin would later be noted to be a “good prospect” by the then-Princeton men’s soccer team coach Jack Volz, though he did not play for the University. He also played three years of basketball and baseball prior to matriculation.
A life-long fan of the New York Yankees who idolized Mickey Mantle, Ruxin died the day after New York’s blowout 14–1 home field victory over the Boston Red Sox in a season in which the Yankees have found themselves dominantly atop the American League East Division. According to Seldin, one of Ruxin’s last activities was attending the game with his son Scoop at Fenway Park when the Yankees visited the Red Sox the previous weekend.
His talents on the field and court extended into the classroom, where his teachers lauded him as an ambitious, hard-working student in their recommendations for his Princeton application. One teacher noted that Ruxin “reads widely and deeply, and with a questioning attitude,” which would certainly have lended itself to his successful journalism career.
Ruxin’s career as a journalist in academia began in high school, where he was a leader at Cobleskill High School’s newspaper and a reporter at the local Schenectady Gazette. His work earned him the title of “Best Journalist of the Year” from the Empire State School Association, an award that was sponsored by The New York Times.
On his application to the University, Ruxin noted that “there is a certain indescribable pleasure … when the paper is printed which makes all the work seem very worthwhile indeed.”
Ruxin participated in a summer institute for high school journalists held by Syracuse University, and Dr. Henry F. Schulte, Chairman of the News Department, acknowledged that he was “immensely impressed” with Ruxin.
“I have spent 10 years in the news business, six on the management level, before entering education,” he wrote in Ruxin’s academic recommendation to Princeton. “Bob Ruxin would be a person I would hire, if I were still adding to the professional news staff. If Bob were interested in studying journalism on the college level, I would move heaven and earth to lure him to our school. In other words, I can recommend him to you not only without reservation, but with enthusiasm.”
After graduating from Cobleskill Central High School, Ruxin entered Princeton in the fall of 1972 after spending a year as a Rotary Club exchange student at Oak Flats High School in Australia.
As an undergraduate, Ruxin was a member of Charter Club and played freshman baseball in addition to intramural sports. Like many other members of the ‘Prince,’ the student newspaper took up most of Ruxin’s time outside of academics.
After Ruxin became chairman of the board in 1975, only around five years after the first class of female students enrolled at Princeton, Ruxin made the determination that women’s athletics would receive the same degree of coverage as men’s athletics.
Nicholas Ulanov ’78, a reporter under the managing board chaired by Ruxin, reflected on his experience writing under Ruxin’s leadership as a staffer.
“We all looked up at Bob’s class and Bob, as almost superhuman; we just thought they were amazingly talented people, and it was very funny to look back years later and realize these were just college kids,” Ulanov recollected. “This is, of course, not far after Woodward and Bernstein. So, all of us kind of thought this was a high point for American print journalism.”
Ruxin graduated from Princeton with an A.B. from the [Woodrow Wilson] Princeton School of Public and International Affairs in 1976 after completing a senior thesis, titled “Modifying Rural Health Care Delivery: The Schoharie County National Health Service Corps. Rural Health Initiative Project,” under the supervision of Herman M. Somers. He went on to study at Harvard Law School, where he received his J.D. in 1979.
After finishing his law degree, Ruxin began a career practicing law in Washington, D.C., where he also met his wife, Peggy Shukur, in 1981.
The couple had three children, Benjamin Jerry, or “Scoop,” Ali, and Talia. Like their father, Ruxin’s children were all active student-athletes while growing up, often with their father as a coach. Ruxin once proudly led the “Reds” to a Little League Championship. In a generation of evolving social norms, Ruxin was often the stay-at-home parent who spent much more of his time raising his three children at the sacrifice of his career.
Later in the 1980s, when searching for employment in the sports industry, Ruxin was connected with Dick Kazmaier ’52, the Princeton football legend and recipient of the 1951 Heisman Trophy.
Ruxin took up a job with Kazmaier and worked in Boston as Vice President and General Counsel at Kazmaier Associates, Inc. for three decades, eventually becoming president.
Ruxin later taught sports business for two semesters at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business and published a book, “An Athlete’s Guide to Agents,” in 1989.
Ruxin is survived by his wife Peggy Shukur; their children, Scoop, Ali, and Talia; and his sister, Suzanne.
Allan Shen is a senior writer who often covers research and obituaries. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @fulunallanshen. He previously served as an Associate News Editor.
Managing Editor Caitlin Limestahl contributed reporting to this article.