Homegrown values, many interests were true gems for Belle Vernon native Ruby
Mention outstanding basketball players in Mon Valley history and the name Daryle Alexander Ruby immediately comes to mind with longtime fans.
But there is much more to the life of the former Bellmar High School and University of Pittsburgh standout who has been a physical therapist for nearly 50 years.
“I was always interested in science and the human anatomy, how it functions and repairs itself – how the brain and spinal cord work, the circulatory system, muscle function, etc.,” said Ruby, a 1961 Bellmar High graduate now living and working in Ocean City, Md. “I began to explore physical therapy as a career and decided that was a way to help people adapt and overcome physical, neurological and cardiovascular issues to maximize their potential and function for daily activities.”
Those keen interests led Ruby, who was president of his graduating class at Bellmar, to Pitt on an academic scholarship.
In addition to Pitt, he received numerous offers from such Division I schools as Duquesne, Arizona State and Utah and NAIA schools throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.
“I chose Pitt for several reasons,” Ruby, 71, recalled. “Coach (Bob) Timmons and his assistant, coach (Carl) Peterson, emphasized education when they were recruiting me to play basketball. They said the scholarship was academic and was for four years. Pitt also had a strong reputation with its graduate schools and was affiliated with the D.T. Watson School of Physical Therapy. In addition, Pitt's on-campus students numbered 5,000 at that time, which gave it a small college atmosphere with university facilities.”
Ruby, the son of the late Stephen W. and Elizabeth Geraldine Parry Ruby of Belle Vernon, also was influenced by his father in deciding to continue his education and basketball career at Pitt.
“My dad was a huge Pitt fan,” Ruby said. “He talked about the great teams of the 1920s ‘30s and ‘50s. He often mentioned Pitt's dream backfield of the late 1930s – Curly Stebbins, Marshall Goldberg, Dick Cassiano and John Chickerneo. And he recalled the basketball teams coached by (Henry Clifford) Doc Carlson and such outstanding players as Paul Hyatt and Don Hennon. There was so much tradition there and I knew I wanted to be part of it.”
Buoyed by that inspiration and determined to meet the requirements of an academic scholarship – excelling in the classroom as well as in basketball – Ruby, a 6-4,190-pounder, carried strong credentials to Pitt.
He was a three-year starter in basketball at Bellmar and finished his 63–game varsity career with 995 points (15.2 ppg). He was named to the All-Section 5-A team as a senior with Willie Ross of Rostraver, Don Yates of Uniontown, Joey Russell of Donora and John Verkleeren of Charleroi. Collectively, that group scored 2,127 points, with Ross setting a hot pace with 606 as the section scoring leader. Ruby finished second with 501 and Yates was third at 481. Ruby also earned All-WPIAL and All-State recognition.
Ruby credits former coach Ken Clark with developing his basketball skills.
“Mr. Clark was my only basketball coach in junior high (Vernon) and high school,” Ruby recalled. “He was gentle but tough – very strict about the fundamentals of passing, dribbling, shooting, defense and ball handling. He always had a good game plan.”
Ruby's older brother, Steve Ruby Jr., a 1955 graduate of Bellmar, where he was a basketball standout, also was a major factor in his development and success.
“Steve played basketball as a freshman at West Virginia University at later became a successful high school and college coach,” Ruby said. “Starting when I was in junior high school, he taught me individual offensive moves he learned at WVU and proper practice habits which improved my skills.”
True to his humble nature, Ruby is hesitant to talk about his prolific scoring at Bellmar.
“Other players assisted me,” he said. “I was fortunate to have some very talented teammates throughout my high school career – guys like Ron Coates, Carl Osborne, Ron Feher, Walter Lautsch, John Kasuda and John Daniels.”
Two games, however, do stand out.
“One of the best was breaking Sam Sergi's single-game scoring mark of 31 when I had 33 against Brownsville,” Ruby said. “Sam was an outstanding athlete at Bellmar several years earlier; no question that he was one of the best ever in the Mon Valley.”
Ruby topped his own standard with a 35-point effort against Monessen on Friday, January 21, 1961 at the BHS gym.
“That remains in my mind because I knew (Monessen's) Tony Romasco, Bill Malinchak and Eric Crabtree from playing ball in the summer,” he said. “Bellmar had never beaten Monessen, so we had a lot of incentive. When we came out of the locker room, the Monessen players were in the hallway and said they were going to beat us again. But we won 70-69 and that was a big night for us.”
Ruby continued to enjoy success at Pitt.
He played in 67 varsity games from 1962 through 1965 and scored 573 points in helping the Panthers compile a 43-30 record during that stretch. The 62-63 team posted a 19-6 record and competed in the NCAA Tournament, while the 63-64 club was 17-8 and was in the National Invitation Tournament. Ruby captained the Pitt passers as senior in 1964-65.
Among Ruby's teammates at Pitt were Brian Generalovich of Farrell, Paul Krieger of Uniontown, Tim Grgurich of Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Dave Roman of Johnstown and Calvin Sheffield of New Brighton.
“They were very talented players,” Ruby said.
So were many of the opponents he faced.
He played against Dave Stallworth of Wichita State in the NIT at Madison Square Garden, Barry Kramer and Harold “Happy” Hairston of New York University in the NCAA Tournament, and Rick Barry of Miami twice and Cazzie Russell of Michigan in the Los Angeles Classic, and Dave Bing and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse in regular seasons games. All enjoyed successful careers in the National Basketball Association, except Boeheim, head coach at Syracuse and one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history.
Ruby was graduated from Pitt in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He completed his studies in physical therapy and received his degree in 1966 at the D.T Watson School of Physical Therapy in Sewickley and began his professional career physical therapist at Shadyside Hospital. He worked as director of physical therapy services at Braddock General Hospital, Ivy Nursing Home, Magee-Womens Hospital and Butler Memorial Hospital before returning to Shadyside Hospital as director of rehabilitation services.
He later served as vice president for services in the Mon Valley, Uniontown and Greensburg areas with Keystone Rehabilitation prior to becoming a partner with Frank Guenther at Southwest Rehabilitation Associates.
“Southwest is a Medicare certified rehabilitation agency with contracts with nursing homes and home care agencies providing physical, occupational and speech services,” Ruby said. “The agency was started by Frank Guenther and Jim Armour and I was invited to become partner when Jim left.”
Ruby works as a home care physical therapist with licenses in Maryland and Delaware for Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Ocean City. He provides physical and occupational therapy services to homebound patients.
“I enjoy home care because I have the opportunity to help patients regain independence in such activities of daily life as ambulation, transfer and, with an occupational therapist, dressing, bathing and cooking,” Ruby said. “We also provide adaptive equipment to help them reach their goals.” Ruby and his wife, the former Nancy Lee Manown of Belle Vernon, will celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary on June 8. Nancy, a 1962 graduate of Bellmar High School, is the daughter of Clara Lee Nelson Manown of Lynnwood and the late Jack Manown.
The couple has three children and seven grandchildren. Craig Ethan Ruby is director of the physical therapy program at Wheeling Jesuit College in West Virginia, and he and his wife, Christine Romani-Ruby, are the parents of two daughters, Cassandra, 16, and Chloe, 14, both students at Ringgold High School.
Colin Thomas Ruby is a mechanic with Delta Airlines at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta, Ga., and he and his wife, the former Shelly Rusilko, are the parents of three children, Samantha, 20; Alexandra, 19, who is serving in the U.S. Navy, and Stefan, 17 a student.
Melissa Lynn Ruby Schaal is a cosmetologist and owns a salon in McDonald. She and her husband Michael Schaal have two children, Michael, 12, and Molly, 10.
The Rubys lived in Mt. Lebanon until 2007, when they moved to Ocean City.
“We had vacationed there since 1978 and always wanted to live near the ocean,” Ruby said.
Ruby's brother Steve lives nearby in Ocean Pines, Md. Nancy's sisters, Cheryl Belowich and Cindy Geikler, live in Bethel Park, and Renfrew, Pa., respectively.
Family is important to the Rubys.
“My parents set the standard for me early in life,” he said. “They emphasized a strong work ethic and stressed academics before sports. I was taught to be respectful and not judgmental and that family and friends are very important in anyone's life. I learned to respect others, help others when needed and listen when family or friends have issues that are troubling them.
“Those lessons have remained with me throughout my life.”
Ron Paglia is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.