December 13, 2014
John Davis' tribute to his stepfather.
Today we laid to rest one of the best men I’ve ever known. Donald T. Ruland retired as FDNY’s Chief of Department in 1995. He passed unto eternity in his sleep December 10th, 2014.
His life started humbly in Brooklyn, 1933 to a NYPD officer and his stay at home wife. All told, there were five children in the Ruland household. Donald’s father died when he was eleven and his mother when he was fifteen. Instead of splitting up to live with relatives or go into foster care, the older children did whatever honest work they could find to make money to cover rent and continue to live together.
His older brother, Jimmy and he decided that it was a pretty good idea to join the Marine Corps reserves when he was seventeen. That was 1950. Korea loomed and they were called to active duty for two years, but the rest of the family stayed together. Upon his honorable discharge I had heard he worked as a typewriter repairman for a couple years but I may have misheard that.
Service to his city was ingrained into his being and he joined the NYPD and served proudly for three years and change. But his heart told him he was meant to be a firefighter and he went through the Academy in 1957 with his brother Jimmy.
Don rose steadily through the ranks and started a family with his wife, Geraldine. Together they raised their daughter, Carol, their son, Donald J. daughter Geraldine and another son, Bobby, on Staten Island.