Off Campus

‘Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time’: Lifer Ruddy Ligonde ’10 got it right in his senior yearbook and in his years afterward

When he graduated in 2010, the student editors of this paper named Ruddy Ligonde ’10 “most likely to win over the Anime world with kindness.” The description unified Ruddy’s love for video games and comics with the loving spirit he was known for in the community.

That spirit passed on Tuesday, April 23, when at 26 years old, Ruddy was taken off life support. He had been hospitalized three weeks earlier after suffering a cardiac arrest due to intracranial pressure.

Ruddy spent 12 years at the school as a lifer before he went on to study aeronautical engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He had been working as a community educator at the New England Aquarium and as a manager of South Boston Yoga at the time of his death. Ruddy was also a passionate activist for anti-racism and queer liberation, and he became a certified street medic to care for people injured in rallies and protests in Boston.

 Curtis Van Slyck, Ruddy’s close family friend, wrote on a GoFundMe page raising money for Ruddy’s medical bills—which has garnered over $24,000 in donations in three weeks—that he was “an educator, first and always, but also a nerd, a yogi, a foodie, an activist and, to seemingly everyone he meets, a real and true friend.”

Spanish Teacher Margot Caso, who taught Ruddy and knew him for three years, commended his qualities as an activist.

“Ruddy did a lot of things behind the scenes. My sense is that even as an adult, that’s how he worked,” Ms. Caso said. “I don’t think he needed to be up front or get a lot of credit, but he was kind to people.”

Ruddy was known for being shy and quiet, Ms. Caso added.

“He was quirky, so you had to get to know him to appreciate his humor,” she said. “He was able to roar like a lion. He was such a quiet boy, and then you would say, ‘Hey Ruddy, can you roar like a lion a trick he was known for [a trick he was known for]?’, and he would do it, and I couldn’t believe the sound that would come out of him.” 

Sports Information Coordinator and Girls Varsity Head Soccer Coach Graeme Blackman ’10 said he got to know another side of Ruddy’s personality when the two of them shared a free block and spent their time playing computer games like Dungeons and Dragons in the Internet Café. 

“He was actually an exceptional gamer. When it came to computer games and understanding different nuances, he was better than everybody else,” Coach Blackman said. “In my graduation speech, I had a theme of [the school] being Buckingham Palace, and we were all knights, and I spoke about him as our master tactician.”

English Teacher Rob Leith, whose two children were a year above and below Ruddy in school, said he knew Ruddy from the time he came to the school to when he graduated.

“When he reached the high school, I thought that he had retained a great deal of that sweetness,” Mr. Leith said. “He was very earnest, very sincere, a very good-hearted person—something of a nerd in a way, and I mean that in the best sense. He was very focused on his studies and not concerned about how he appeared to other people.”

Julia Berkowitz ’10, Ruddy’s close friend and a lifer alongside him, also said a strong sense of self distinguished Ruddy.

“Even in the toughest times of middle school and high school, he had the courage to be fully himself,” Julia said. “He was cherished by so many people because, through being so himself, he allowed everyone else to do the same.”

Ruddy always put people at ease and created joy even in tough moments, Julia said, recalling that her best memories of him were the smaller things.

“I remember giving my first ever oral presentation on golden retrievers in second grade and telling him how nervous I was about what questions I would be asked,” Julia said. “At the end of my presentation, he said, ‘How many bones does it have?’ He decided to ask a ridiculously hard question so no one else would, and made us all burst out laughing.”

Science Teacher Anthony Moccia ’10 said he sees his former classmate as the model for what a high school student should be.

“Because he was so quiet, Ruddy could fly under the radar, but to me it’s only because he was imagining all the amazing ways he could show his love in the future,” Mr. Moccia said. “He embodies what we hope all our students end up becoming, and that’s finding their true selves and showing love to people.”

Director of Multicultural Services Lewis Bryant, who knew Ruddy for four years, said he valued the opportunities given to him and was eager to use those to better the world around him. In this way, Mr. Bryant said, he was not unlike Kendric Price ’08, who died in March (see “Remembering Kendric Price ’08,” Vol. 48, Issue 8).

“Ruddy was one of those unique human beings who really cared about his community and the world that he lives in,” Mr. Bryant said. “Instead of just caring about it, he, in his short life, tried to do something about it—which was something that he and Kendric obviously had in common.”

Mr. Bryant also knew Ruddy from working closely with his mother, Cheryl WhiteDear, who was president of the Parents’ Association from 2008 to 2009 and a school trustee from 2008 to 2012. Ms. WhiteDear was fiercely committed to supporting Ruddy by being involved as a parent in the school, Mr. Bryant said. 

“What stood out to me was the relationship they had and how committed they were to each other. I’m a mama’s boy, so I can spot a mama’s boy,” Mr. Byrant said. “That was something we had in common and something I appreciate and respect.”

Several hundred people, including many alums from the class of 2010, gathered to celebrate his life at a memorial held for Ruddy at the New England Aquarium on Friday. There Ms. WhiteDear spoke about how much she loved Ruddy’s ability to forge friendships among those in different, “siloed” groups representing causes important to him. 

She also said she was proud of Ruddy for being an organ donor and listed the states where his organs were going to help others.

“Right to the end,” Ms. WhiteDear said, “Ruddy was giving.” 

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