The OPC and OPC Foundation are deeply dismayed to report that William Rukeyser, who founded Money magazine and served as managing editor of Fortune, died Aug. 16 in Knoxville, Tennessee, at the age of 83. The cause was lung cancer, his wife of 58 years, Elisabeth, said.
Bill was a veteran on the OPC Foundation board, an OPC member, and was one of the primary architects of the foundation’s financial strategy. He created the structure for the reserved funds that allowed the foundation to grow and add more scholarships. He also was a generous donor and served as a liaison with the Princeton Press Club at Princeton University. In Knoxville, where he lived, he was a former chair of the board of directors of the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Joseph Landsman, President and CEO, described how Bill was known for his collaborative relationship between administrators and physicians and how he believed that nurturing and preserving a shared sense of purpose was the basis of the success of the medical center.
“Bill was such a major force on our board,” said OPC Foundation President William J. Holstein. “We last saw him at a cocktail party for our winners in May, but he declined to take part in an online meeting of the Foundation’s annual finance committee in July, citing medical issues. We never knew how seriously ill he was.”
His wife said Bill began complaining of breathing difficulties but he blamed those on back problems that had plagued him for years. So he delayed being examined for possible cancer. When he was finally tested, doctors found a tumor on his right lung and the cancer had spread to his liver and bones. “He didn’t know about it until five weeks before he died,” Elisabeth said. He had a nurse at home who helped drain the fluid from his lung, but he was exhausted. Doctors offered to perform an operation but Bill decided to decline any further procedures. He died while in hospice at a hospital.
The Rukeysers had two children, James and Lisa, both in their 50s, and four grandchildren.
There will be no funeral. Elisabeth said it was her intention to organize a celebration of Bill’s life in Knoxville and possibly one in New York as well. The OPC Foundation has offered to host such a celebration in New York. Updates and details will be shared here.