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DINUBA, Calif. -- Ruiz Foods Inc. lost a valuable member of its family this week, when Louis Flores Ruiz, the co-founder and chairman emeritus for the company, passed away on April 1.
Ruiz was born in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico in 1918. His parents chose to move to America when Pancho Villa seized their property during the Mexican revolution. Ruiz was 5 years old at the time.
Then, Ruiz became an American citizen when he joined the U.S. Army in December 1944. At the time, he was newly married with two children. One year later, Ruiz received an honorable discharge and returned to his home in Los Angeles. He worked a variety of jobs including a grocery store owner and an insurance salesman before partnering with his brothers and brother-in-law to develop a tortilla factory where they moved away from mechanical "hand-thrown" tortillas and toward automated production.
In 1964, Ruiz entered a partnership with his son, Fred, and founded Ruiz Foods Inc. The company sold frozen enchiladas, tamales and burritos to retailers in the Central San Joaquin Valley-area of California in the morning, then delivered the orders in the afternoon.
Ruiz formally retired in 1990 from the family business, but never stopped visiting the company. He frequently visited the local facility and could be found in the maintenance department where he would tinker with the machines.
He also had the pleasure of meeting various leaders during his lifetime. In 1983, he met then President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush when he received the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Small Business Persons of the Year Award. Then in 2003, Ruiz met current President George W. Bush.
Ruiz was also entered into the Tortilla Industry Hall of Fame in 2004 as its 14th member. Ruiz will be remembered as an entrepreneur and innovator, often experimenting with a new recipe or machine.
The family has requested that any remembrances be made to Ruiz 4 Kids, Louis F. Ruiz Scholarship Fund; P.O. Box 37, Dinuba, CA. Additional information can be obtained by e-mailing [email protected]. Condolences can be sent to [email protected]