James Robert Ruggiero, 30, of Waverly, Pennsylvania, was taken too soon from this world – he died July 31, 2019. He was the son of Dr. Dominic Ruggiero and Aracely Ruggiero. He attended Abington Heights High School and graduated in 2008. He was an awesome life guard, great diver, an avid extreme skier, mountain biker, and rock climber. James was a beautiful free-spirit whose laugh and smile always came easy.
James found his life’s passion several years ago. His passion was to rescue people in need and be active in the beautiful outdoors. He became an experienced outdoor teacher with a tremendous thirst for adventure and outdoor activities. James attended NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) in 2017 and 2018, where he received certifications on things like avalanche training, high angle rock rescue, and swift water rescue medicine. James was also a certified wilderness emergency medical technician. He truly loved to help people.
James was currently enrolled at Western Colorado University majoring in Outdoor Education. This brought together everything he was passionate about – he spoke of the stunning outdoors of Crested Butte, the friends he had made, and his training with the Western Mountain Rescue team where he found opportunities to help people in need. He was excited to go back to school and he closed out his first semester with a 4.0.
He used every school break to spend time with his family. He lived every moment like it was his last, giving freely of his time and bringing a smile to everyone he encountered. Unfortunately, James struggled with heroin addiction for many years but in the past three, James had seen a remarkable recovery. Friends, family, and teachers witnessed an outstanding leader, a compassionate friend, a selfless giver, and a joyful spirit. He overcame so much and, in recent years, created such incredibly close bonds with so many. This makes his relapse all the more tragic.
James is survived by his father Dr. Dominic Ruggiero; his sister Michelle and brother Dominic. He also leaves behind his grandmothers, Maria Victoria Suarez and Gilda Ruggiero. He is also survived by several aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, and nieces who are heartbroken in this time of loss.