This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Before there was Donald Trump and other Hillary Clinton detractors, there was Howard Ruff.
Before there was Glenn Beck and other "buy gold" promoters, there was Howard Ruff.
Before there was Charlie Wilson, the Texas congressman who inspired the movie "Charlie Wilson's War," there was Howard Ruff.
The hard-money investment adviser whose "Ruff Times" newsletter and books warning of pending economic tsunamis earned him the title "Prophet of Doom" encouraged his followers to keep a year's supply of food to guard against famine in bad times.
That, in a sense, married his philosophies about good finance and survival with his Mormon faith, which also urges its members to stockpile food.
Ruff, one of the most popular financial advisers of the 1970s and '80s, died Nov. 12 in Lehi. He was 85. His funeral will be Monday at 11 a.m. in an LDS stake center, 825 E. 500 North, in American Fork.
"He was great with his wit and could make fun of himself," said Mark Skousen, a Ruff protégé who publishes his own investment newsletter, "Forecasts & Strategies."
"Ruff argued that Wall Street was hazardous to your wealth, especially investing in bonds that were big losers during the inflationary '70s," Skousen said. Ruff also quipped that "to err is human; to be paid for it is divine" and that "it wasn't raining when Noah built the ark."
"We were at a conference in New Orleans once where Howard was a speaker, and I brought a 20-year-old can of freeze-dried banana chips to test his theory that you could keep freeze-dried food for years and it would still be good," Skousen recalled. "I had a can opener and had Howard open it, and all you could see in the can was black. I was worried that it could be dangerous to eat after all these years, but Howard reached in, took a chip and ate it, relating to the audience that it was pretty good. He passed the can around for others to try, and nobody got sick."
Ruff, who gained fame with his New York Times best-seller, "How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years," was a "fellow traveler" with conservative author and lecturer Cleon Skousen, founder of such think tanks as the Freemen Institute and the National Center for Constitutional Studies, said Mark Skousen, Cleon's nephew.
Ruff's other books included "Famine and Survival in America" (1974) and "How to Prosper in the Age of Obamanomics: A Ruff Plan for Hard Times Ahead" (2009).
Ruff also hosted his own syndicated TV show called "Ruff House." He formed a political-action committee that was dedicated to electing conservatives to public office.
Ruff raised money to oppose the U.S. Senate candidacy of Hillary Clinton in New York in 2000. He produced a TV ad that featured babies and puppies playing in Central Park. It asked rhetorically what they had in common, responding: "They have all lived in New York longer than Hillary Rodham Clinton."
Ruff also took some credit for persuading President Ronald Reagan to supply Afghan rebels with the Stinger missiles that helped defeat the invading Soviets, according to media reports. That intervention was the plot of "Charlie Wilson's War," which chronicled the efforts of Wilson to get Congress to supply the money.
Ruff had once been an aspiring singer and a music major at Brigham Young University before dropping out.
"I ran out of money and got out of college before it did me any personal harm, like ending up teaching high school music courses," he told The New York Times in 1979.