Nov. 24, 1949 – June 7, 2015
Kenneth J. Ruggiero of Niagara Falls, former Niagara Gazette golf columnist and physical education teacher who ran golf seminars for children and founded the Juniors Championship Golf Tournament, died Sunday at Niagara Hospice House in Lockport after a lengthy illness. He was 65.
Born in Flushing, he was raised in Westbury, Long Island. He came to the area after high school to attend Niagara University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s in special education.
Mr. Ruggiero began his career with the Niagara Falls Board of Education teaching physical education and special education at various schools in the district. He also served as the city supervisor of recreation assigned to the LaSalle Neighborhood Facility at Griffin Park. It was during that time he was asked to work at the Hyde Park Golf Course during the summer and promote his true passion, golf.
For more than 30 years, he ran golf seminars at Hyde Park for local children and ended each summer with the Junior Championship golf tournament. In 2012, he was honored by Mayor Paul A. Dyster for his many years of service and dedication to the Hyde Park Junior Golf program.
In addition, Mr. Ruggiero coached the Niagara Falls High School golf team, was a Niagara Gazette golf columnist, covered the annual Porter Cup and was involved with Beat the Pro events. Following his retirement, he worked as a job coach at Opportunities Unlimited. In his younger years, he coached Little League baseball.
Mr. Ruggiero had an extensive collection of antique radios and sports memorabilia, and was an avid fan of the New York Yankees and Buffalo Bills. He also enjoyed spending the winter months at his home in New Port Richey, Fla.
Survivors include his fiancée, Kellyann Simon; three sons, Kenneth Jr., Kevin and Kristian; a brother, Douglas; and four grandchildren.
Services will be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at M.J. Colucci & Son Niagara Funeral Chapel, 2730 Military Road, Niagara Falls.