Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden

Mary was born on June 13, 1888, in Benton, Illinois, the daughter of Lulu B. Ward. She was raised by her widowed mother and a maiden aunt.

"She claimed to have been an indifferent student," Budge Ruffner wrote in a birthday tribute to her in 1933, "yet in the world of music she possessed a talent far above average. . . It demanded that her family, mother, aunts, uncles and cousins pool funds for her advanced training."

Mary graduated from the Chicago Conservatory of Music and came to Prescott in 1910. In June 1912, she married Lester Lee Ruffner and became the mother of Lester "Budge" Ruffner and Mary Lou Griffith.

An accomplished musician, Mary was the first public school music teacher in the area, director of the community sings for 13 years and the church organist. She was a guest artist on radio station KTAR in Phoenix and served as accompanist for the Atwater Kent operatic auditions.

She was a long-time member of the Golden Rule Chapter No. 1, Order of the Eastern Star. Budge remembered that "she loved to gamble, the bigger the odds the better. She was probably the worst driver in the history of Prescott. . . Indifferent toward alcohol, she was addicted to coffee and cigarettes. . . On more that one occasion, at two or three in the morning, the mellow notes of 'Claire de Lune' would float through the halls of our home."

Mary died in October 1953 and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. At the time of her death, she had lived in Prescott for 43 years.

Donor: Elva Breckenridge

Additional documentation and photographs may be available in the Sharlot Hall Museum Archives and Library.