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Remembering Paul Rucci

Updated: Jan 14, 2022

On 22nd June this year, Real Admiral E. Paul Rucci passed away, giving pause for the Balboa Park Committee of 100 to remember his extraordinary contribution to the board, and his legacy of dedication to the park's preservation. Below we share his obituary, as appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune, to remind everyone of his dedication to the park, and to show our thanks and gratitude for all of his contributions.


Rear Admiral Paul Rucciwas born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, February 4, 1929. He passed away on June 22, 2020, with grace and dignity, surrounded by family.


He was held in the highest esteem by all that knew him, as an aspirational icon, mentor, and provider

The son of Mr. and Mrs. Sam J. Rucci he grew up in Waukesha and lived a tremendously purposed life honoring family, friends, God, and country. After receiving his M.D. degree from Marquette University School of Medicine in 1954, he married his true love Elena, whisking her away, embarking on a prestigious 30-year career in Navy Medicine. His family loyally followed him from Pensacola, Florida, Malta, Great Lakes, Illinois, Kenitra, Morocco, Washington D.C., Camp Pendleton, Long Beach, Norfolk, Virginia and San Diego, California. His distinguished career began as a Naval Flight Surgeon, and practicing Obstetrics and Gynecology; he served as Senior Medical Officer, USS HANCOCK (CVA-19) in 1968 and 1969 during the Vietnam War.


He departed from daily practice as his superb leadership and mentoring talents emerged. After serving as Executive Officer of Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, he reported to his first Commanding Officer assignment at Naval Regional Medical Center, Long Beach California, in 1974. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1977 and served on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Norfolk Virginia, prior to reporting as Commanding Officer at the iconic Naval Regional Medical Center, San Diego in 1980, followed by becoming the first Commander, Naval Medical Command, Southwest Region. In addition to the Legion of Merit, RADM Rucci wore the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, the Navy Occupation Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.


Once a scratch golfer (6 holes in one), Paul was known for his professional tenacity, integrity, loyal friendships, and dedication to his family and country. He greatly valued his long affiliation with the Miramar Men's Golf Club and his many friends there; He was also a proud member serving on the Committee of 100 for the preservation of Balboa Park.


His greatest and proudest legacy was the family he leaves behind: sons Peter (wife Linda), Bob, Tom and John (wife Alesha); grandchildren Erica, Dana-Rose, Mackenna, Hayley, Sam and Georgette and great-grandchildren Leo, Gia, Joe and Crosby. He now joins his beloved wife of 62 years, Elena, with God in heaven, proud that the family he and Elena created will continue to grow and endeavor to follow their example of elegance, dignity, and values. He is also survived by his brother, Joseph, of Waukesha. He was held in the highest esteem by all that knew him, was an aspirational icon, a mentor and provider to his entire family and will be greatly missed every day.


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