Elisabeth Ruffner honored with Spirit of Volunteerism Award
Elisabeth Ruffner, a longtime advocate for historic preservation and cultural enrichment in Prescott and across the state, received the Arizona Women's Education and Employment 2012 Barbara Jean Polk Spirit of Volunteerism Award at a luncheon this past Thursday at the Prescott Resort.
The award recognizes an individual in Yavapai County who demonstrates significant volunteerism in the county, adherence to the AWEE values of integrity, results, diversity, leadership, flexibility and innovation, and a long-term commitment to the AWEE vision of increasing prosperity, productivity and independence for women in Yavapai County, Sheila Polk an AWEE advisory council member, said in presenting the award.
Ruffner came with her mother to Prescott by train from Cincinnati in 1940 to meet the family of her husband-to-be, the late Budge Ruffner.
From the beginning of her 70-year Prescott residency, she has made her contribution to the community as a businesswoman, writer, public speaker and historian, Polk said.
"The protection of historic properties has been a dominant theme in her life, and she has been a principal fund-raising chairman for historic preservation, libraries, open space and most recently the restoration of the 1905 Elks Opera House," Polk said of Ruffner. "She is dedicated to preserving Arizona's rich history."
The award that Ruffner received is a limited print of an original oil painting by Prescott artist Steve Atkinson called the "Promise." The model for the painting was Barbara Polk's daughter, Julie, and the setting for the picture is on the Polks' ranch by the pond. Water represents life, hope and new beginnings, which gave Atkinson inspiration for the painting's title.
"It is so fitting that 'Promise' goes this year to someone who, as a young woman, traveled West on a train from Cincinnati to Prescott to meet her fiancé's family and who has stayed here ever since, for the last 72 years, tirelessly giving to our community. I can just imagine the excitement, the hope and the promise of a wonderful future that trip must have held for Elisabeth," Polk said. "She, in turn, has clearly fulfilled that promise."
The Barbara Jean Polk Spirit of Volunteerism Award was created in 2010 by Tom and Gene Polk, Barbara's son and husband, respectively, with an endowment of $25,000 to sustain and support AWEE's mission of helping men and women get into the workforce and gain economic independence.
"There are not enough words beyond thank you for being here today and sharing this with me. I am honored to be included in AWEE's recognition of achievement and admire the work they do a great deal," Ruffner said in accepting the award.