Dr. Ruesink's research addressed how plant cell walls grow and develop, but undergraduate teaching became his first love. Prior to his official retirement in 2012, he taught more than 14,000 students and wrote over 2,700 letters of recommendation. Dr. Ruesink chaired his departmental Curriculum and Courses Committee for 34 years, and for nearly two decades supervised the department's introduction to curriculum and teaching for graduate students preparing to be Associate Instructors.
Dr. Ruesink was heavily involved in university service work beyond his department and was a Faculty Council leader, including secretary, chair of subcommittees, and (longest-serving) member of the Budgetary Affairs Committee. From 1999 to 2005, he was Special Assistant to the President for Faculty Relations, working most closely with President Myles Brand. For his exceptional teaching, Dr. Ruesink received IU's Amoco Teaching Award. IU also awarded him the George W. Pinnell Service Award for his service to the university. Students recognized him with a Student Choice Award for Outstanding Faculty in 2010.
In the community, Al was active in First United Church (choir, boards, search committees, Interfaith Winter Shelter), in support of children's gardening (Hilltop Education Foundation, George E. Archer Foundation), and in support of city-wide religious efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and slow down climate change (Earth Care of Bloomington).
Since 1984, Al and his beloved wife Kathy logged nearly 60,000 miles on their semi-recumbent tandem bicycle. For several decades, as well, Al and Kathy organized music and rooms for the weekly dances of the IU International Folk Dancers. Indeed, in his private life, Al was never one to sit still, but instead would be off to pick raspberries in the backyard, shovel the snow on sidewalks along his church, or fix a clicking sound in a bicycle wheel.
Al was an accomplished storyteller, a meticulous record-keeper, and a clever tinkerer. In combination, these skills enabled him to reach classes of hundreds of undergraduates in introductory biology, providing them with lasting, relevant information and ways to recall it; to model a sustainable approach to life, including repairing, repurposing, and recycling; and to contribute hundreds of articles to newsletters, spanning local events to global changes. His boundless energy, enthusiasm, and positive outlook have inspired many others in lives of service and education.
Al is survived by his cherished wife of 51 years Kathleen (Cramer) Ruesink, his two precious daughters, Jennifer L. Ruesink (Alan Trimble) of Seattle, WA, and Adriana E. Ruesink (Andrew Barker) of Burlington, VT, as well as his three treasured granddaughters (Emma and Tess Barker, and Katie Ruesink). Al is also survived by four siblings: Priscilla (Ray) Jackson of Manitou Beach, MI; Virginia Clark of Adrian, MI; Bruce (Leilani) Ruesink of Three Rivers, MI; and James (Sue) Ruesink of Naples, FL.
Cremation was through Indiana Green Burials. A memorial service conducted by the Reverend Dr. Jack Skiles will occur at First United Church (2420 E. 3rd St.) at 2 o'clock on Saturday, August 23. Memorial gifts may be made to the Solar Panel Fund at First United Church or to the IU Foundation: Endowment for the Albert Ruesink Outstanding Associate Instructor Teaching Award in Biology.