Imagine how proud Steve Rucker would be to see his 16-year-old daughter heading off for sophomore year or his 11-year-old son tackle sixth grade. Ditto for seeing his wife, Cathy, working on her second year of law school and doing a legal internship.
The Rucker family and supporters all over Novato, including personnel at the , easily supply and exceed the supply of pride as they prepare for the ninth annual Steve Rucker Memorial Golf Tournament on Sept. 10 at StoneTree Golf Course in Novato.
Rucker enjoyed golf and was slated to play with a group of friends one day in the fall of 2003 when he was called in to cover for his firefighter cohorts who were heading to Southern California to battle some vicious wildland fires. And then he was dispatched so the San Diego area himself.
On Oct. 29, 2003, Rucker died while battling the Cedar Fire near the town of Julian. He is the only firefighter in the district's history to lose his life while fighting flames.
The tournament, started in 2004, has raised more than $85,000 through the years and supported such programs as Fire Squirts camp for kids, automated defibrillator installations and a scholarship program in Rucker's name.
"Having been a firefighter's wife, I know that their job is very physically and mentally challenging," Cathy Rucker said recently. "Having an opportunity to hit the golf course with their friends in order to relax is very beneficial. And by participating in the Novato Fire Foundation's golf tournament, those firefighters and other citizens are able to support the foundation's various programs."
Rucker, an engineer and an 11-year veteran of the district, was in charge of the district Easter party each year and was the "Chief Elf" in the district Toys for Tots program. He participated in the People Helping People program, helping seniors reduce fire hazards around their homes.
The tournament and post-golf banquet are a celebration of Rucker's contributions and a salute to those who keep his community interests in mind.
"It's really neat from my perspective because it keeps Steve's spirit alive and it's a great way for firefighters to bond over what Steve meant to all of us," Deputy Chief Eric Nickel said. "He was really a community guy ... involved in community and did all kinds of things for the community. We take the money we raise and put it right back into the community for youths who want to become firefighters and paramedics."
Captain Jeff Whittet said there are a few slots left for golfers and sponsors. Tournament fees are $150 for individual players and $600 for foursomes. Call Brody about signups and sponsorships at 707-481-6774.
Donations to the Novato Fire Foundation can be mailed to Novato Fire District, care of Billy Brody, 95 Rowland Way, Novato 94945.