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In Memoriam: Leland C. Ruef

Memorial service to be held in Columbia on Sat., Oct. 21 at 2 pm


Leland "Lee" Carroll Ruef , 85, passed away in Columbia, SC, on Oct. 16, 2023.  He was born in Springfield, Ohio, the son of William Henry Ruef and Anna Marie Tonkinson Ruef.

Lee  served as President of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of South Carolina (IIABSC) from July 1989 to December 2005 – a total of sixteen and a half years as the organization’s chief executive officer. He was named the IIABSC Industry Person of the Year in 2005.  

He had a long career in media, public relations and public service prior to his time with the association. It includes working at The Augusta Chronicle, WIS-Radio and WIS-TV. He served on the staff of US Senator Fritz Hollings and established the PR, advertising and political consulting firm Cook-Ruef & Associates.

Lee worked to further his industry and community, even after his retirement. He served as president of the South Carolina Society of Association Executives in 1999 and president of the national independent agent association executives in 2000. He has received the American Advertising Federation Silver Medal Award for service to the advertising industry and his community. He served as a  vice president of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, president of the Columbia Advertising Club, chairman of the Midlands March of Dimes and United Way Voluntary Action Center Board and as a member Town Theatre Board. 

Lee was an active, long-time member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, SC, and devoted his time and talents in many ways. He was a member of the Vestry, a lay reader, docent, and usher. When Trinity had a radio station many years ago, he was known as the “Voice of Trinity.” He also engaged in countless hours of service through Trinity’s outreach program to W. A. Perry Middle School, where he served as a mentor to young people.

Lee was preceded in death by his wife Mary McCraw Ruef and his brother Monsignor James Le’Roy Tonkinson Ruef. He leaves behind his beloved Goddaughters, Elizabeth Love Wallace and Eliza Wolff Bostian.

Memorial service, internment and reception will be held at 2 pm on Sat., Oct. 21 at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, SC.  Address is 1100 Sumter St.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Trinity Foundation, 1100 Sumter Street, Columbia, SC 29201.

Memorial contributions can also be made to the IIABSC Foundation, 800 Gracern Rd., Columbia, SC 29210.