Three new Distinguished Graduates of Belleville High School will be honored in a ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday, April 29, at the BHS Auditorium. This will be in conjunction with the BHS National Honor Society induction ceremony.
Distinguished Graduates to be honored are Paul Ryznar, class of 1979; Victor Hogan, class of 1963; and posthumous honor to Reva Ruthruff, class of 1907.
Paul Ryznar, Class of 1979
Paul Ryznar grew up on a family farm in Van Buren Township, on Ryznar Drive, a road named after his grandfather.
His grandfather was an immigrant from Czechoslovakia and started farming in Van Buren Township. When they built the road, they named it after his grandfather. His father continued to run a small farm with an old tractor that his grandfather had purchased.
“We were always working on the tractor and farm implements,” he said. “When I graduated from high school and was getting ready to go to college, it was a natural fit to go into mechanical engineering. I loved farming, but I liked fixing things more. That tractor is still running today.”
Ryznar earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from U of M. He and his wife Eve have twin daughters, Emily and Elana, age 24.
Engineer, inventor and entrepreneur, Ryznar created Light Guide Systems and is the founder, president, and CEO of Novi-based OPS Solutions.
Prior to Light Guide Systems’ invention in 2005, he held senior management roles at Detroit Diesel and Bosch, as well as vice president of production technology at Energy Conversion Devices – more than 30 years of manufacturing experience.
Light Guide Systems uses proprietary software and high-powered projector systems to guide and confirm completion of complex tasks. From assembly to quality control to training, this technology provides the visualization, traceability, and flexibility demanded by leading companies worldwide.
Ryznar and his team have implemented systems in leading automotive manufacturers (including Fiat-Chrysler Group, Daimler AG and Johnson Controls) as well as for applications in aerospace, heavy equipment, and health sciences.
“It’s a product that basically makes complex manual processes as easy as just following the lights,” he said. “It was originally designed for the automotive world and it was really set up to make factory floors safer, smarter, and more productive.”
The company, which he started in 2005, employs 17 people. The systems sell for $15,000 to $180,000 each.
Victor Hogan, Class of 1963
A life-long resident of Belleville, Victor Hogan graduated from BHS in 1963 and continued his education at the University of Michigan, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1967. Later, he continued to take post-degree work in secondary education.
He married in 1968. After serving in the U.S. Army (1968-70), he completed his Master’s Degree at Eastern Michigan University in Cellular and Molecular Biology. Later, he continued to take post-degree work in secondary education.
He worked for seven years as part of a medical research laboratory at the University of Michigan Medical School’s Department of Dermatology where he co-authored two original research articles in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology. He then was employed at a company in Ann Arbor where he worked developing immuno-diagnostic kits for the Department of Defense.
For the past 28 years, Hogan has continued to learn in his career. He is the projects manager of the Tumor Progression and Metastasis program at the Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University where he oversees budgets, supervises a cancer research lab and its scientific personnel, and coordinates their research efforts. In this position he has also trained dozens of post-doctoral students in the technical protocols necessary to become successful researchers.
One of the compounds which was first prepared by him and used in the experiments reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1995, is currently undergoing a Phase III human clinical trial as an adjunct therapy to determine its effectiveness in delaying or preventing recurrence of prostate cancer following surgery.
Hogan has co-authored a total of 41 publications in collaboration with his colleagues. His findings have been published in Cancer Research, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, American Journal of Pathology and 12 other scientific journals. He has collaborated with 76 co-authors from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Western Hemisphere and has been cited over 3,500 times. Two papers have been featured on the cover on the International Journal of Cancer.
In addition to his academic pursuits, he has contributed to the community. He was a Little League baseball coach and a member of the Belleville Community Players. He has been on the All-School Class Reunion committee since 2004. Hogan served for eight years on the school board of the Van Buren Public Schools where he contributed to planning and implementing the proposal that led to the building of the “new” high school.
Reva Ruthruff, Class of 1907
Reva Ruthruff was born on Jan. 20, 1889 in Belleville. She was the great-grandchild of Abraham Soop and Maria Spawn, who settled in the Belleville / Rawsonville area in approximately 1838.
Her parents were Myra Soop and Lewis Ruthruff. Reva grew up in Belleville in a house on Fourth Street, about where the library parking lot exists today. Her parents operated a bakery out of the home.
Reva attended Belleville Schools, where she was an excellent student and an accomplished pianist. She was valedictorian of the Belleville High School Class of 1907.
In 1902 at the age of 12, Reeva began writing a diary. On her 13th birthday on Jan. 20, she wrote, “Fine Day – My birthday today. I am 13 yrs. old. Dolly gave me fifty cents for a birthday present. Went to school. Milly Jacklin sang a solo, ‘The Last Words of McKinley,’ in the morning.”
Reva’s diary contains a fascinating historical account about daily life and runs from 1902 until about 1906. She talks about cutting ice on the river, skating on the river flats, flowering in Quirk’s woods, and her day-to-day activities in the village of Belleville. She mentions names and families that we recognize even today, and gives a unique and refreshing perspective of village and school life from the viewpoint of a teenager in the early 1900s.
First mention of her teacher, Mr. Fred C. Fischer, was in 1905 and she often wrote about how he visited her house so she could accompany him on the piano as he played the mandolin. Some early comments about Mr. Fischer were not particularly flattering, but his name popped up more frequently as the years passed. It all ended well in 1908 when they were married – a year after graduation, and to a bit of a scandal as she was 19 and he was 29 – and he also was her former teacher!
Young Reva probably did not understand that while she wrote in her simple journals, she was creating a priceless historical document that detailed the lifestyle and activities of Belleville residents during that long-ago era. Most of the entries are in pencil and have faded, which required careful scrutiny with a magnifying glass and strong light to decipher and transcribe. The diary ended in 1906. If there were more entries, sadly they’ve been lost.
Reva Ruthruff Fischer and Fred C. Fischer built a home on South Liberty Street and had four children: Muriel Fischer Boelter, Ruelle Fischer Dominick, Deal F. Fischer, and Nola Patricia (Patsy) Fischer Dodge, all of whom graduated from Belleville High School. Reva Ruthruff Fischer died in 1968 at the age of 79.