With expression of great sadness to write that Richard Ruquist passed on Friday March 24 after declining health. At his bedside in his final hour in hospice Richard had Fife and Drum music playing to listen to as he passed. How appropriate for such an outstanding drummer that he was.
Richard was born on November 8, 1937 in Bristol Ct of a French-Canadian Mother Louise Michaud and a Swedish-American Father Helge Ruquist both deceased. Richard graduated from Bristol High School in 1955 where he captained the cross-county team. He went onward to Union College where he was also captain of their cross-country team. He graduated Union College in 1959. In this year he also won the New York college javelin championship. Richard ran the Boston Marathon a dozen times, as well as the New York Marathon 5 times. When he was 65 years old, Richard Ruquist was 5th in the world in the sport of “Race Walking” for which he was extremely proud to have accomplished.
In addition, he won a Raytheon Fellowship to obtain a PHD in physics from Harvard University in 1966. His work included research of ballistic missile defense systems in 1988, at which time he adamantly protested the deployment of the “Star Wars” program of defense.
His true passion was marching and drumming in fife and drum corps which extended from 1950 to the pandemic of 2020.
He was a founding member of Carey’ Cadets in 1950 and spent his high school years (1951-1955) and college summers playing with the Plainville Ancients. He joined Linn Village Drum Band of Wakefield, Ma. In 1964 and the Colonial Boys of Norwood, M A in 1968. He helped Jack Casey start what came to be known as the Middlesex County Volunteers, and the Mass Bay Colonials started in Richard’s living room. He joined Sudbury Ancients in 1970 and the Lexington Minutemen in 1974. He joined the Ancient Mariners of Gilford CT. in 1976. Richard started the Bostonia Allarum Companie in 1975 and joined the Menotomy Minutemen of Arlington, MA in 1980. He played with the Bluff Point Quahogs as well as the Westbrook Drum Corps for several years in the 2000s. He played briefly with Prescott’s, Uxbridge, and the Colonial Navy of Fall River, MA before joining his last corps, the Nathan Hale fifes and Drums of Coventry CT. in 2016. At musters he would often perform with several of these units.
During this time, he taught snare at the Junior Camp and taught drumming within the different corps to which he belonged. While a musical member of the Lexington Minutemen, Richard portrayed William Diamond during the battle on the green, sounding the Long Roll to call to muster the militia as the British were advancing. The long roll was performed flawlessly.
In jam sessions at musters, you would find Richard Ruquist in the middle of the jam, quietly, modestly leading the drum line. He was always encouraging to other musicians. To accompany Richard to musters it was unspoken rule that his focus and joy was to get as much drumming in at both evenings jam sessions.
Richard and Helen were married in 2006 in the company of many friends both personal and fife and drum family, around our traditional at the time “Dog House Burn”. A joyous occasion which set the stage for life to include, dogs, chickens, and horses. Richard got to continue walking everyday with Abby and Eeyore, working on the computer, writing papers, and living life.
Richard often described death not to be fearful of, but to embrace, for in his words, he wanted to be on to his next great adventure. I hope he is. He once said that when one passes, one could fly, I hope that he is on his way and flying high.
He leaves his wife, Helen Cheney of Grafton, MA and a sister, Esther Burnham of Cheshire CT. He leaves two sons, Jared, and Benjamin of Massachusetts, a son Eric of Florida is predeceased, and one daughter Cherie Remilien of Florida, his other daughter, Rebecca, is predeceased. He also leaves two grandsons Jackson and Emmett, both of San Diego, CA.
Perhaps the best known and most played of Richard Ruquists compositions is piece that he conceived of as a "stock beating", 'Ruquist 2/4'. This is now used in Jam sessions most frequently with the tune 'Balquidder Lasses'. The Fill is very fun to play, and Richard intended to be played with a slight swing to it.
This setting was provided by Kevin Dill, and is part of an upcoming Company of Fifers & Drummers publication.
A Memorial of Life will be held at The Company of Fifers & Drummers in Ivoryton CT. on June 3, 2023 from 10-4. Please join us to reflect and celebrate Richard’s lifetime.