The Honorable James Ray Rucker, Jr.
The Honorable James Ray Rucker, Jr.

May 7, 1941 - June 5, 2017
Resided in Centennial, CO
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The honorable James Ray Rucker Jr. passed peacefully in his sleep on Monday, June 5, 2017, following a long period of illness. Jim is survived by his wife of 49 years Pat Rucker, his daughter Lisa Rucker, grandson Henry Rucker, Daughter Heather Frommelt, son-in-law Ben Frommelt, and grandchildren Molly, Will and Tessa Frommelt, all of Centennial, Colorado and brother John (Jack) Rucker of Boise, Idaho.

Jim was born on May 7, 1941 in Greeley, Colorado to James Ray and Dorothy Rucker. Jim grew up in Greeley, enjoying a childhood that was highlighted by train trips with his uncle John Rucker, listening to many hours of baseball on the radio with his beloved grandmother Effie Morgan, working at the family Service Station, and raising Berkshire pigs with his older brother Jack. While in Jr. High School, Jim discovered a love for the game of football. In high school at Greely Central, Jim was the big right guard at 6 ft, 220 pounds. He quickly gained state-wide notoriety and was named to the 1959 Colorado High School All-Star team. Jim was heavily recruited by University of Colorado, University of Wyoming, and Colorado State University, where he attended on a full-ride football scholarship. Dreams of a football career ended abruptly with a devastating knee injury during his sophomore season. Always resourceful, Jim refocused on academics and passed the next 2 years at CSU studying, announcing Rams basketball, DJ'ing at a Longmont radio station, competing in Forensics and even acting in a play or two.

Upon graduating with his BA in Liberal Arts, he was admitted to Law School and attended the prestigious University of San Diego, where he earned the honor of serving as Editor of the USD Law Review. Following successful graduation from USD, Jim returned to Greeley where he joined the law firm of his childhood friend Ed Venable, forming Smith, Bohlender, Rucker and Venable. Recognized as a gifted legal mind and rising star, Jim made an impression of the sitting Chief Judge; a man who would end up introducing him to Patty Rose.
Patty Rose moved from her home town of Boise, Idaho to Greeley in 1966 with her parents C. Lee and Norma Rose, and her two younger siblings Mary and Mike. Patty went to work as Division Clerk for Chief Judge Donald A. Carpenter. Judge Carpenter employed his skills as matchmaker and introduced his young Clerk to the up and coming Defense Attorney, and following a brief 5-month courtship, Jim and Patty we married on March 9, 1968 in a civil ceremony in Judge Carpenter's courtroom; a ceremony which he, of course, officiated.

Following a honeymoon in San Diego, Jim and Patty settled in to domestic life back in Greeley. On May 19, 1969, they welcomed the birth of their first child Lisa Ann Rucker. During these years, Jim also ran for and was elected City Councilman for Weld County. In 1971, Jim was appointed to the Weld County District Court as Judge by Governor John Love. Jim served on the bench with Judge Carpenter, and Patty went to work as a paralegal for Clark Weaver, General Counsel for Monfort of Colorado, at their Corporate HQ in Greeley.

On October 21, 1974, The Rucker family welcomed Heather Marie Rucker, and a quick 3 months later, Jim accepted a position as Regional Administrative Law Judge for the Federal Government, with the Social Security Administration. The family of 4 relocated to Sacramento, California in 1975, where they remained until 1982, when Jim was promoted to Regional Chief Judge and returned to Colorado, settling in Denver. In 1987, Jim, Pat and Heather moved to Washington DC where Jim served as Chief Judge for the Social Security Administration. After 3 years, the family decided to return to Denver, where they have remained ever since. Jim worked as Regional Chief Judge for SSA until 2007, when he left SSA to become one of only 12 Administrative Law Judges in the country adjudicating for the Occupational Safety and Heath Review Commission. He served as Head Judge of the Denver OSHRC office until illness prompted his retirement in 2013.

Since retiring, Jim enjoyed time spent with his family: passing time in the company of his beloved Newfoundland Maggie and English Bulldog Winston, loving Patty's cooking, discussing politics, the arts, and all manner of topics with Lisa, Heather, and oldest grandchild Molly, talking football and life strategies with his son-in law Ben and grandson Will, and serving as attentive playmate to his 2 youngest grandchildren Tessa and Henry, all of whom are left broken hearted by his death. He was loved and respected by extended family and friends, and will no doubt be missed by all who were fortunate enough to have known him.





Horan & McConaty - County Line
5303 East County Line Road
Centennial, CO US 80122
Thursday, June 15, 2017
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM