In Memory of





Obituary for Wilhelm Richard "Bill" Ruff

Wilhelm (Bill) Richard Ruff, age 77, passed away peacefully in his home on January 4, 2021, surrounded by his loving family.

Bill was born September 7, 1943, in Billings, MT to Victor Ruff and Elisabeth Roemmich Ruff; he was the fourth out of six children.

Bill attended Taft, Orchard, Garfield, and Billings Senior High schools, after which he joined the United States Navy (1960-1963). He proudly served aboard the U.S.S. Bennington aircraft carrier.

On July 1, 1966 Bill married Helen M. Byrnes. Together they had two children, Raenelle Ruff Hinrichs and Richard Ruff. Bill loved Helen so much that he asked to marry her twice. They renewed their vows on June 28, 2014, for their 48th wedding anniversary.

Helen’s final words to Bill are, “We had a wonderful 54 years together. We raised two great kids. You will be missed. I love you.”

Bill worked for the Billings City Street Department, the Great Western Sugar Factory, Big Sky Linen (1966-2005), and Lockwood Schools (2006-2015). He attended Lockwood Evangelical Church, where he served on the Communion Committee and as a greeter. In his free time, he enjoyed working in his woodshop, yard and garden; riding 4-wheelers with his friends; camping and fishing with his children; watching the sunrises and sunsets with his wife; and caring for his dogs (Pepper, Salt, Cinnamon, and Sally).

Bill loved spending time with and picking on his six grandchildren and first great-grandchild: Samantha Hinrichs (Bryon) Baumstarck; Amanda Hinrichs (Chance) Atwood; Madison Hinrichs; Ryan (Ashley Earnst - fiancée) Hinrichs; Mackinzy and Baily Ruff; and Andrew Atwood.

Survivors include his wife Helen; daughter Raenelle; son Richard (Kati); grandchildren and great-grandson; sisters Ella Rider and Sharon (Dave) Joppa; brothers Jim (Reta) Ruff and Dennis Ruff; brothers-in-law Jack and Joe Byrnes; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his mother and father; parents-in-law Thomas (TJ) and Ila Byrnes; nephews Rocky Ruff and Mike Byrnes; sister-in-law Marian Byrnes; brother-in-law Albert Rider; and beloved sister Carol Ruff Byrnes.

Bill’s service will be held at Smiths West Funeral Home on January 8, 2021, at 10 am. Afterward, there will be a small gathering to celebrate Bill’s life. Following the gathering, Bill will be buried at Yellowstone National Cemetery, in Laurel, with full Military Honors. All of Bill’s family is welcome to attend. The family asks that all attendees adhere to Covid19 guidelines (wear your masks please). The service will be available via livestream at the Smith Facebook page, Condolences for the family may be shared at

The family would like to thank Kathy Brown N.P. and the entire team at Stillwater Hospice, who worked tirelessly to make Bill’s final days peaceful. In lieu of flowers, please place a donation in Bill’s name to Stillwater Hospice at 3737 Grand Ave Ste 1, Billings, MT 59102.