Milton O. "Milt" Ruark Jr., a career math teacher who taught in Baltimore City and Montgomery County public schools, died Aug. 28 of melanoma at his Catonsville home. He was 85.
The son of Milton Oliver Ruark Sr., an Acme grocery stores superintendent, and Anabel Burns Ruark, a former federal worker with the Social Security Administration and the National Security Administration, Milton Oliver Ruark Jr. was born in Baltimore and raised on Allendale Road in Windsor Hills.
He was a 1951 graduate of Forest Park High School, where he was a member of the varsity cross country, track and basketball teams.
His chemical engineering studies at the Johns Hopkins University were interrupted when he enlisted in the Army in 1953 and served with an engineering unit.
After being discharged in 1955 with the rank of corporal, he changed his career goals and decided to study education and "pursue his love of teaching," said his daughter, Karen M. Owens of Catonsville.
While studying at what is now Towson University, Mr. Ruark met and fell in love with Margaret Elizabeth "Peggy" Brickmeyer, who was also an undergraduate education major. They married in December 1958.
Mr. Ruark and his soon-to-be wife both graduated from Towson in 1958 with bachelor's degrees in education. In 1963, he earned a master's degree in education from the University of Maryland, College Park.
He began teaching in city public schools in 1958, and during his 16-year-career taught math and served as a department head at both Rock Glen — now West Baltimore Middle — and Gwynns Falls junior high schools.
In 1974, he joined the faculty of Col. E. Brooke Lee Junior High School in Silver Spring, where he rose to become head of the math department. He retired in 1986.
From 1971 until the late 1980s, he taught part time at what is now the Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville.
In a letter of recommendation for his teaching position at CCBC, William J. Gerardi, who was supervisor of secondary mathematics for city public schools, wrote that Mr. Ruark had done an outstanding job as department head at Gwynns Falls.
"He is an excellent teacher and he establishes harmonious working relationships with pupils and colleagues," Mr. Gerardi wrote.
In a 1981 CCCB evaluation, a student urged the college to "Hire this instructor full-time!"
"Mr. Ruark is extremely patient with the class. He doesn't rush us, or try to cover too much material in too little time," wrote the student. "He also makes us comfortable to ask questions whether they're irrelevant or not. He is also witty which makes the class less stressful."
Mr. Ruark later taught at Boys' Latin School from 1986 to 1995, when he retired for a second time.
"Throughout his career, he was known as a conscientious, just and hardworking teacher," said his daughter, Ms. Owens.
In a 1962 interview with the Gwynns Falls Ripples, the Gwynns Falls Junior High School newspaper, Mr. Ruark he explained his philosophy of what made a good teacher.
"I feel the four factors that make up a good teacher are preparation, presentation, personality, and patience," he said.
The article observed that he exemplified this philosophy through combining "a pleasant sense of humor with real honest hard work" and was "known throughout the building for his personality and sense of fair play."
Mr. Ruark enjoyed crabbing, duckpin bowling, golf and tennis. He liked reading, watching sports and playing poker.
When he was younger he liked to jog, and when he grew older he walked several miles a day.
"His math background served him well, as he was known for his bargain shopping," his daughter said. "It was not unusual to see him in the grocery store at 4:30 a.m., with carefully selected coupons to take advantage of the deals."
He also enjoyed spending time with his family and four grandchildren.
A memorial service for Mr. Ruark will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 10 at Catonsville United Methodist Church, 6 Melvin Ave., Catonsville.
In addition to his daughter and grandchildren, Mr. Ruark is survived by a son, Kenneth J. Ruark of Catonsville; and a half-sister, Betty Spear of Elkridge. His wife died in 2007.