Gilbert J. Ruiz
October 11, 1939 – January 29, 2014
Longtime Santa Barbara native and contributor to Santa Barbara’s cityscape, Gilbert J. Ruiz died on Wednesday, January 29, 2014, from a frustrating illness that he met as courageously as he did when roared to victory at the Bonneville Salt Flats with a land speed record of 212 mph.
Gil was born in Santa Barbara, attended Santa Barbara High School, and married his sweetheart, Dorothy Ann Cordero, on July 5, 1957. He became known throughout Santa Barbara for construction projects now well known in Santa Barbara, and then to projects that contributed greatly to the preservation of Santa Barbara’s history. Ruiz Brothers Construction, started with Gil’s brother, Tony, eventually became G. Ruiz Construction, which built Coast Village Plaza and the Santa Barbara Racquet Club. Later, when the business was revised into Ruiz & Son, Gil and his son, Ken Ruiz, reconstructed and restored for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historical Preservation the Casa De La Guerra, the Ennisbrook Adobe, and other adobes in Santa Barbara County.
Gil’s secret love was cars, and racing them fast in landspeed racing competitions. In 1970 he was given a lifetime membership in the Bonneville 200 MPH Club for his land-speed record of 212 mph. In 1976, his reformation of a candy apple red 1929 Roadster hit the cover of Street Rodder Magazine. Two months before he died, Gil’s race buddies arranged for him to visit the El Mirage Dry Lake race track so that he could see for the last time his classic Roadster on the track. Gil leaves his wife and soul mate of 57 years, Dorothy, his children Ken Ruiz, Debbie Kennedy and Windy Stones, four grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Mass will be held 10 a.m. Thursday, February 6, at Our Lady of Sorrows, 21 E. Sola, Santa Barbara. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Hospice of Santa Barbara.