Ruble’s passion lives on

By Michael McFall, Staff Writer

Zach Ruble is gone, but his passion for nature lives on in his friends and family.

Ruble, 19, died last week. A rancher discovered his remains in a burned Kia Sorento in Washington County on April 2. His parents had bought the car for him last Christmas to drive back to the U from his quiet hometown of Maysville, Ky. Ruble studied bioengineering and environmental studies as a freshman at the U. He is survived by his parents, Jay and Paula, and his younger brother Nathan.

Jay Ruble said his son knew more about driving his car8212;and any other8212;than almost anyone else in Maysville. Always concerned about the environment, Ruble figured out he could use less gas by accelerating slowly and decelerating long before reaching a red light, his father said.

During his last few months of high school, he quit driving altogether and rode his bike everywhere.

“This is what I need to do to help save the planet,” Jay Ruble recalls Zach saying. “I can make some kind of difference.” Zach’s passion for the environment was infectious.

It started at home. He convinced his father to bike to work, even though it was a six-mile trip uphill. As an Eagle Scout, he led hikes and adventures into the wilderness, so others could enjoy and appreciate a fragile but beautiful world. He chose to live on the Outdoor Leadership Floor in the dorms and organized outdoors trips for other U students. He would take them longboarding, ice climbing, backpacking and rock climbing.

“He just loved it out there,” said his friend Todd Zolka, a freshman in biology who joined him on the environmental treks. The students and faculty were so enamored by his natural leadership on the floor that they named him Resident of the Month last fall.

Zach came to the U on a Presidential Scholarship to immerse himself in the outdoors, a complement to his environmental studies classes. He was going to earn a doctorate and save the planet, Jay Ruble said.

“Not that he didn’t know how to have fun,” his father said. Zach canoed, water skied, wakeboarded, skied, white-water rafted, and when he came to Utah, discovered the joy of climbing mountains. Jay Ruble keeps a picture of Zach Ruble hanging from a rock, giving him his constant and familiar smile, one that his father will dearly miss.

“He was a good friend and a very good son,” Jay Ruble said. “There is a tremendous hole in our heart that may never heal.”

On Arbor Day or Earth Day, Zach Ruble would take his friends in Kentucky out to plant trees and restore the environment. His father and friends have cleared their calendars to plant new ones this Friday.

“He would’ve found them and dragged them out there anyway,” Jay Ruble said with a laugh. Now, with Zach gone, they go of their own accord.

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Ruble Family

Zach Ruble came to the U so he could immerse himself in the outdoors when he was not studying the environment in the classroom. Last week Ruble died and his remains were found in a burned car in Washington County.