Life Story: Barbara G. Ruziska, 81; Teacher, Coach, Singer, Golf Champion

Barbara G. Ruziska of Somerset passed away peacefully after a long illness on January 12 at the Garden Terrace Nursing Home in Chatham. She was 81.

Born in Orange, she grew up in South Orange as part of a close-knit Irish Catholic family. The second of five siblings, Barbara was a tomboy, loving all sports especially basketball. She attended high school at St. Vincent Academy in Newark and then the prestigious Panzer College of Physical Education and Hygiene at Montclair State University, graduating in 1963 with her bachelor’s degree. She played basketball on her high school team, in summer leagues, and on her college team. She later obtained her master’s degree also from Montclair State University in 1975 after attending night classes for 2 years.

She married her husband (Phil Ruziska) a few days after graduation after having been going together for five years. They lived in Parsippany initially and bought their first house in Chester in 1966. However, Phil’s company sent him and the family overseas for several assignments during that period including Cartagena, Colombia, Aruba, Thessaloniki, Greece, The Netherlands, and finally Alberta, Canada. After 19 years in Chester, Phil’s company relocated him to Texas and Barbara and Phil settled in Kingwood, Texas for the next 32 years. They spent a few years in Celebration, Florida before moving back to New Jersey to their condominium in Somerset.

Prior to moving to Texas, Barbara worked as a Physical Education Teacher at the Mountain View Middle School in Mendham, and each season she coached a different girls sports team. She later coached high school basketball and softball at the Kent Place School in Summit. After the move to Texas, she volunteered to coach girls’ summer softball teams and Special Olympics swimming.

Barbara was a talented singer. She was a member of both the church choir at St. Matthias Church in Somerset and St. Martha’s Church in Kingwood, Texas. In addition to singing at Church, the St. Martha’s choir traveled to other venues to perform including singing in front of Pope John Paul II in Italy and the Advent concerts in Austria. She also auditioned and joined the Kingwood Chorale which performs primarily classical and sacred choral music. In 2007 she traveled to New York City with the Chorale and performed at Carnegie Hall.

Aside from basketball and singing, Barbara’s other passion was golf. She learned to play golf in 1976 when she and Phil joined Spring Brook Country Club in Morristown. Golf brought her so much joy – meeting new friends, vacations with Phil and even playing with her children and grandchildren. Later in Texas, she was a member of the Kingwood Country Club where she also served as president of the Women’s Golf Association. When back in New Jersey she played in the Somerset Run Golf Club where she once won the Women’s Club Championship.

Barbara doted on her grandchildren. She loved spending time with them and went to as many of their sporting events, dance recitals, school functions, and concerts as she could. There were many wonderful family outings but she was just as happy being with them at home where they would build Legos together, read books or shoot hoops in the driveway.

She was predeceased by her parents, Paul Francis and Maria Hearn Gibbons; brothers, Paul and James ‘Donald’ Gibbons, and sister, Carole Gibbons.

Surviving are her husband, Philip; son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Cheryl Ruziska of Travelers Rest, South Carolina; daughter and son-in-law, Joanne and Jeffrey Wachenfeld of Basking Ridge; brother, Richard Gibbons of Freehold, and six grandchildren, Amanda, Bradley, Colleen, Dylan, Alex and Elizabeth.

Memorial visitation will be held from 3-7 p.m. February 1 at the Gleason Funeral Home, 1360 Hamilton Street.

Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. February 2 at St. Matthias Church, 168 JFK Boulevard, Somerset. All to meet at church.

Committal service to follow in Resurrection Cemetery, Piscataway.

In Lieu of flowers, donations in her loving memory can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater New Jersey Chapter

Your Thoughts


Please Support Independent Journalism In Franklin Township!

No other media outlet covering Franklin Township brings you the depth of information presented by the Franklin Reporter & Advocate. Period. We are the only truly independent media serving the Eight Villages.

But we can only do that with your support. Please consider a yearly subscription to our online news site; at $37 a year, it’s one of the best investments you can make in our community.

To subscribe, please click here.

Other News From The Eight Villages …