Numerous speakers and attendees honor Vuong, who served Fuller's students for 25 years
View video of the memorial service here.
The First Congregational Church of Pasadena filled up quickly on Wednesday, January 13, as students, staff, administrators, faculty, alumni/ae, and friends gathered to honor the memory of Fuller Seminary’s Dean of Students Ruth A. Vuong, who passed away unexpectedly on Monday, January 4.
“I don’t know where you get deans of students from,” commented William E. Pannell, special assistant to the president and senior professor of preaching, “but this one came from the heart of God.” He called Ruth “God’s gift to us” and observed, “she became what we in our better moments aspire to be.”
Fuller President Richard J. Mouw reflected, “I will so remember Ruth as an advocate for those in our campus community who were on the margins, for those who were grieving, and for those who felt they had no voice.”
Known for her deep prayer life and appreciation of reverent silence, Ruth’s memory was honored during the service with a prolonged period of quiet while the past and present Student Life and Services staff lit candles and silent prayers were offered for Ruth’s family and in her remembrance.
The group sang together two of Ruth’s favorite hymns, “Be Thou My Vision” and “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” and the Fuller Vocal Ensemble sang a stirring piece in her memory.
In one of the many personal tributes given by Ruth’s colleagues and friends, Fuller alumna and trustee Anne Huffman said, “Ruth was and remains the jewel of Fuller Seminary. I have watched her over the years bloom in her confidence and the scope of her ministry at Fuller.” Huffman mourned, “She has left a huge hole at Fuller and in our lives.”
“Ruth was the most Christlike person I have ever known,” stated Erin Dufault-Hunter, Fuller alumna and assistant professor of Christian ethics. In a touching portrait of Ruth, Dufault-Hunter compared her to Jesus in that she was a “woman of sorrows, well acquainted with grief,” yet also “the kind of person you would want to invite to a party.” Identifying Ruth as both “a bearer of sorrow and a cheerful reveler in God’s abundant gifts,” Dufault-Hunter remarked, “Ruth displayed for me how it is that Christ can offer us abundant life while at the same time beckons us to die.”
Tributes were also offered by Fuller’s Vice President for Finance Lee Merritt, alumna Kirsten Oh, and former Executive Vice President for Administration Howard Wilson.
President Mouw delivered a message based on Isaiah 43:1-7, Fuller's theme text for the 2009-2010 school year, which Ruth had helped to select. Mouw encouraged those in attendance to find comfort in God’s presence in the midst of this tragedy, and offered some closing remarks about Ruth. “Ruth Vuong ‘got it’,” he said. “She got what Fuller Seminary should strive to be, and we honor her best by carrying on the ministry she modeled in such a marvelous way.”
Thuan Vuong, Ruth’s husband, gave a few words in response to the service and tributes, calling it a “precious and honoring time.” He shared, “Ruth always thought she was lucky to have work, ministry, family, and church all in the same place—you offered that to her. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
A reception followed the service on the Fuller campus, where guests were encouraged to remember how Ruth cherished the written word by writing out a memory or prayer for her.
A memorial fund has been established for the Vuong family. Cash or checks (made out to Fuller Seminary) may be sent to Fuller’s Office of the President, 135 North Oakland Avenue, Pasadena, California 91182, with a note indicating that the gift is for the Vuong Memorial.