Charlie Ruter: One Of A Kind

Courtesy of WKU

John Tong, Richard “Rosie” Rozelle and now Charles Melton Ruter, all stalwarts on the local sports scene from our high schools, the State Basketball Tournament, Muhammad Ali and Jimmy Ellis fights, the Louisville Invitational Tournaments and the boys’ and girls’ Sweet Sixteens, Mason Dixon Games, the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association and, for Ruter even Olympic Games and other world-wide competition where he was in charge of USA teams.

He was an official in the Atlanta and Los Angeles Games. He also was in charge of several other USA teams in international competition overseas.

Because Ruter got to know world-class track and field athletes from his association with the Olympics, he persuaded many of them to come to Louisville and participate in the Mason-Dixon Games. As a result Louisville and Freedom Hall had one of the top indoor meets in the nation.

And all three — Tong, Rozelle and now Ruter — are gone.

Ruter’s friends can hear him now that he has joined Rosie and John with the Man Upstairs,


“All right, you peckerwoods, let’s get to work!”

No one can remember hearing Charlie saying a bad word, “Peckerwoods!” was as bad as he got.

Charlie and his wife (he always referred to her as “Mrs. Ruter”) were both administrators in the Jefferson County School System. One of many good things they did was support of needy children all the way through high school and college.

Charlie played basketball at what was then Western Kentucky State Teachers College. His coach was the colorful Uncle Ed Diddle, who played on the storied Centre College football team that beat mighty Harvard in 1923. Diddle played in the first football game (at Centre) that he ever saw.

Got Diddle’s ire

In addition to basketball, Diddle coached football and baseball. Times were hard when Ruter played at Western. Once a foul ball was lost in the weeds and Charlie was assigned the job of finding the ball. He came across an old ball with the cover half off it and said, “Here it is, Mr. Diddle. Catch.”

Diddle looked at the old ball and said, “Rutah (he never called him Ruter), “I’ll get you for this! Now get back in the weeds and find the game ball!”

Charlie was 91. A native of New Albany, Ind., he was buried in Resthaven Memorial Park.