This is non-numismatic, but the bibliophiles among us will appreciate this obituary of Frederick Gale Ruffner, founder of Gale Publishing.
Frederick G. Ruffner Jr., an inveterate collector of information who founded the Gale Research Co., an empire of directories, dictionaries, biographies and bibliographies that stocked reference libraries for decades, satisfying urgent curiosity and waiting for questions not yet asked, died Aug. 12 at a hospital in Detroit. He was 88.
He founded his company — Gale was an old family name — in Detroit in 1954. Mr. Ruffner was working at the time as a marketing manager for a firm that sold firefighting equipment and set out in search of a directory of trade associations that might expand his contacts.
When he found in circulation no volume sufficiently current for his needs, he decided to compile one himself.
Working alongside his wife, with headquarters on a card table in their home, Mr. Ruffner typed and edited the first edition of the volume now known as the Encyclopedia of Associations. While perhaps lacking the glamour of many a bombshell bestseller, it proved highly useful for professionals across industries. To Mr. Ruffner, it demonstrated the commercial value — as well as the utility — of carefully curated information.
He followed his first directory with hundreds of other titles, including the Code Names Dictionary, the Acronyms, Initialisms and Abbreviations Dictionary, and Picturesque Expressions, a collection of sayings. Gale Research became particularly known for its series of literary reference guides, including the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Contemporary Literary Criticism and the venerable Contemporary Authors.
The company grew to employ hundreds at the central location in Detroit and at satellite offices, said Peter Ruffner. In 1985, Mr. Ruffner sold his company for $66 million to International Thomson.
He subscribed to 300 magazines and maintained a warehouse that housed his personal reference library. “In case I ever want to look something up,” he said.
To read the complete article, see:
Frederick G. Ruffner Jr., titan of reference books, dies at 88
Wayne Homren, Editor
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