Tactical Tailor

In Memoriam – Dave Ruiz

Over the weekend industry lost a visionary and I lost a friend. In fact, a lot of us lost a friend when Dave Ruiz passed away. There isn’t enough room on SSD for me to say all of the good things that need to be said about Dave. In an effort to do him justice I’ve asked his business partner Brian Abrams to prepare a eulogy. In the comments I invite you all to share your memories of Dave. We are truly diminished by his loss.

David L Ruiz

Sorrow fills our hearts this sad moment, a pain that cuts deep and personal. Dave has silently closed the door of life and has been deployed on yet another mission, somewhere where I know he will continue to make a difference. Our lives will surely be empty in the areas that he had brightened for us.

In one word, Dave is a man who gave. He gave so much to his family, friends, work and his country. Here was a life that demanded notice-a life that burned so that others’ paths were lit.

I have known Dave for twenty years…he was my business partner, but more importantly, he was my friend, a great one at that. He was a strategic thinker, a visionary who was smart, innovative and creative. He generously gave us his knowledge, his expertise, his skills and yes, his sarcastic humor which always kept things light.

Dave was deeply concerned as a Marine with improving the quality of their gear to enhance comfort and increase survivability and he was very keen to pursue innovation and look for solutions outside the box. He initiated and implemented much in this field during his tour of duty that can be still seen today.

Dave was living proof of how fine a person can be. He was a good boss to the people in his charge, a loving husband to his wife, and a devoted father and grandfather. He was also a good friend and colleague to many of us. He was sincere, earnest, humble and loyal. He had a great sense of humor and a gentle way about him. Dave was bright, logical(most of the time) and could converse on so many topics…business, technology, sports, family and religion.

In his career he worked with passion, integrity and energy. By his death, all that knew him will miss a highly intelligent and vibrant guy with a special charm of personality. Our sadness is lessened slightly with the comforting thought that we had the privilege to know him. Dave was my best friend and I’ll miss him dearly.

brian abrams


44 Responses to “In Memoriam – Dave Ruiz”

  1. Dude Man says:

    Your words portray your feelings well. It’s obvious you’ve lost a dear friend. My condolences for your loss. May he rest in peace.

  2. Sherman Bierly says:

    Dave, you will be missed. I have spent the last two days reflecting on my own life. You were a true brother and friend which no one has replaced. Some of the best times of my life were with you at Marine Corps Systems Command 1995-1999 as “Acquisition Warriors”. Marine Corps Marathon (s), JFK-50 miler (s), Outdoor Retailer trade shows, trips to Natick Mass, Body armor testing, skiing, and hiking at Lake Tahoe. You were a great friend, sounding board, and mentor. You were passionate in everything you did…always had a plan and had the most brilliant concepts and ideas. Your focus on the individual Marine and confidence in making decisions to get the mission accomplished is your legacy. Semper Fi brother. See you in heaven!

    • Laplume says:

      Dave, yourself and Tom Hartshorne taught me about how to “defeat” the paper tiger and get things done for the good guys more than anyone else ever did in Government. Dave did this by stoic determination, quiet confidence and the moral high ground of “doing the right thing for the Marine on the ground”. It is a small consolation to the profound loss that Dave’s family and us his friends now feel but a whole generation of Warriors going forth to confront evil are better equipped and got that equipment faster than the generation before them. I consider myself lucky that I got to share a laugh or two with Dave in August. Our world will be a lesser place with out him.

  3. maresdesign says:

    Wait, Is this the Dave Ruiz that started 782 Gear? Regardless, RIP Marine….

  4. Mike says:

    Thanks for your touching eulogy. Well said. Dave will be missed. Great man and friend. Many good memories of times spent with Dave. I enjoyed the everything ranging from the strategic discussions to the lighthearted sarcasm that often created smiles all around. May he rest in peace.

  5. r. w. says:

    Rest in peace Dave – you were a great friend to so many… you will be missed brother. See you on the other side – in the interrim we will carry on your mission to develop the best kit for our warriors!
    Godspeed my friend.

  6. Arooji says:

    This is so tragic. I am devestated to hear this. Truly one of the greatest men , greatest Americans I have ever met… My heart goes out to his family. Will be praying for them.

  7. Tammy says:

    Brian, thank you for that lovely tribute to Dave.

    Yes, he was the Dave behind 782…I was very proud of him. We met when we were 18 & 20 and were together for over 29 years (married 26). We were very young grandparents (spring break surprise) and that shared experience was fun and rich for us as my sons little family lived with us. Little Augustin doesnt understand death and yells for “PA!” all the time.

    A fund has been set up to help defray funeral expenses at the Whitefish Credit Union Kalispell, Montana. Contributions will be welcome but please know that Dave didn’t leave us without the capacity to buy Cheerios…we’re OK and I work part time. Me–http://lifeandloss.wordpress.com/

    Thanks everyone for appreciating Dave.

    Tammy Ruiz

    • SSD says:


      We never met but Dave always spoke very highly of you. That man was certainly proud of his family. In many ways he served as mentor to me and many others. His actions impacted many lives in very positive ways. I want you to know that all of that time you spent apart in the military and later in retirement might have been stressful, but Dave was out there making a difference. Dave Ruiz was a good man and I feel lucky to have been able to call him friend. I will miss him.

      -Eric Graves

    • DP says:

      I am so sorry for your loss but also thank you for the support you provided your Marine over the past 29 years. Dave was abloe to make a difference, fight the good fight because of the support he had at home.

    • Kurt and Melissa K. says:


      Melissa and I are saddened by the news of your loss. PM91 was better for having him and I and several others were just talking about him the other day. We must have felt his spirit.

      Kurt and Melissa

      • Tammy says:


        Thank you. I once told Dave that if he were to go into battle again, I would want him to go with you, not someone nice. You are just mean enough to help the guy next to you go home vertical.

  8. Jeff says:

    Brian, I’m very sorry for the loss. I know how close the two of you were and my thoughts are with you and Dave’s family. Working with Dave over the last few years was a pleasure to say the least. His professionalism, honesty, insight and talent will be missed. More importantly, Dave was a also a friend and I enjoyed every chance that I had to sit with him and talk. There was a never a shortage of topics to discuss that always led to a smile or chuckle. Dave touched a lot of people and did so much for so many, but always remained humble. Will miss you Dave.

  9. Tony says:

    Dave and I were not tremendously close because our paths in life took us in seperate directions. However, he was someone I sought out at every industry show just to glean some of his knowledge and he always made you feel that what you were doing was important for the warfighter. He will surely be missed and our prayers are with his family. God speed my friend.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks Brian, and everyone for your wonderful posts, especially our dear Tammy. With all the wonderful things I could say of my brother Dave, I could equally share about you Tammy. Your commitment to Dave was stedfast, strong, and unwavering. Your vows to him were not mere words, but a lifestyle lived for man and God to see. Thank you Tammy, from all the Ruiz’s. Dave was my silent leader. Never once did he sit me down and tell me how to live my life. Instead David led by example. I always tried to follow in his footsteps. Sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing. I remember meeting with the recruiter only to find that my childhood seizures would keep me from following the same path as my big brother. Today I am grateful for the life I live, and because of Dave’s example I will continue to live, love, and serve with those that God places in my life. Well done thy faithful son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, and protector of our nation! We love you Dave, and can’t wait to see you soon!
      -Michael Ruiz

  10. I worked with Dave closely with the rest of the 782 Gear group. Throughout the time I spent with him in person, and on conference calls and the like, I always walked away with a smile. Dave had a unique sense of humor that I loved.

    Straight up, Dave was truly a nice guy. There was never a time that any of my colleagues in the industry ever said anything about Dave but that he was an awesome guy and great to work with. I learned a lot from Dave; he had a distinctly progressive view that forced me to think differently than I was used to, and the things that I learned from Dave continue to help me in business today.

    I am truly saddened to hear of Dave’s passing, and my thoughts and prayers go out to Dave’s family. I won’t forget the fun times that Dave, Erik, Brian and I had up in my neck of the woods in New Hampshire, in Washington, and elsewhere. Rest in Peace my friend.

  11. Teresa Ruiz Cranston says:

    I was blessed and fortunate to have Dave as my brother. He was a little over a year older than me, and the minute I was born, he became my protector. Always making sure I never fell, or was hurting, and when boyfriends came into the picture, Dave was ready to ‘pound’ anyone that hurt me. We never fought once or said an unkind word to eachother. It just wasn’t in David to be like that. As we moved on from highschool and started our own paths in life, sadly, we lost alot of years. Fortunately, we found our way back to eachother again as David’s job brought him to the West Coast. When we saw eachother again, no time had passed, really, we just picked up where we left off. I can honestly say, my brother David is, has, and always will be one of the greatest loves of my life. An astounding man, friend, brother…my heart will never be healed…I love you David and I know you will be with me every day…..I love you Mr. Blue Sky

  12. Brenda says:

    My condolences and prayers to his family and friends. God knows what he does and why.

  13. BattleWear says:

    I am shocked and saddened. I first met Dave Ruiz in 1996/1997. I vividly remember the last time the Major and I spoke: it was at the SHOT Show and just prior to his launch behind 782. We shared some old times and wished each other well; promising to stay in touch for any future opportunities.

    Major Bierly, I also remember you. I hope you are well.

    Mrs. Ruiz, I am so very sorry. I enjoyed your husband’s company and always considered him a close industry associate and solid friend. Grace and Peace to you and your family.

  14. Erik says:

    In the short couple of years that I was shoulder to shoulder with Dave, traveling the country to build a business, we became fast friends. As 10-12 hour road trips were the norm, we talked about everything under the sun and then some. Our similar tastes in music, movies , and shared sarcastic sense of humor made the hours pass with ease.

    He always treated me as an equal, but I respected him as a boss and mentor. I had always hoped we would work together again — and maybe we will — but not in this realm.

    Dave, I can never truly repay your for the kindness, compassion, or life and business lessons you shared with me. I am forever grateful. Rest in peace, my friend.


  15. Jon Nelson says:

    Brian, thank you for that tremendous eulogy. Dave was a friend and mentor and he will truly be missed. His infectious smile and stalwart devotion to equipping the warfighter propelled him in life and he will forever live on in our hearts and minds. Like Erik, I am forever grateful for having known him and for his friendship.

    Fair Winds and Following Seas. We will meet again on the other side brother.



  16. John Puglisi says:

    Dave was my roommate during first class summer school. He was so funny and a really nice guy. Deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

  17. Tom and Jill Keogh says:

    Tammy, Louie, Joe, Julia and the entire Ruiz family; Jill and I want to convey our deepest sympathies to you all. Dave will always be remembered as a great man. As we all know, behind every great man is a great woman. Tammy, you have always been and continue to be not only a pillar of strength, but also a pillar of faith. Your faith in God and family has been a beacon for all of us to emulate.

    Jill and I were just reminiscing about the 70s party that you guys threw at your house in Minden, NV. I believe we still have a picture of Dave as a conehead from Saturday Night Live. Those were great times and memories we will always treasure.

    I will fondly remember my times with Dave up in the mountains of Bridgeport and Norway. On many a cold night, Dave and I shared a snow cave, pulled a Norwegian pulk, stood fire watch and shared stories about the various businesses we planned to open along the way.

    On more than one occasion Dave kept an eye out for me. In 2005 as I was heading to Iraq from Quantico, I stopped by to see Dave at his job at Marine Corps Systems Command. I needed a pair of gloves and Dave told me he had some, “test gear” that I should take. Well, my trunk overflowed with test gear, most of which I still have. Dave wanted to make sure I had the best gear before going forward. He made me feel like I was the most important guy in the Marine Corps. We all know that Dave made everyone feel that way, because in all honesty, he felt that every Marine was the most important.

    The last time I saw Dave was just a few months ago at the Quantico Base Theater. He was starting a new venture and excited about the future. Dave didn’t live in the past, he seized everyday and every moment. He was his own person, followed his own moral compass, and led the way in everything he did.

    Dave, you will be sorely missed. Fair winds and following seas my friend. Semper fi!

  18. Jim & Kristy Williams says:


    We just received your message about Dave. We are so very sorry for your loss (all of our loss). He was truly a great family man and friend. We know he loved you and your children because we talked often (in the past) about our families.

    I first met him at the Naval Academy when we were both classmates on Second Class cruise together (Pensacola, New London, and YPs). He was hilariously funny; his sarcastic humor kept us all rolling.

    We crossed paths again when he was the SuppO at MWTC Bridgeport after I reported to MARCORSYSCOM after which he joined me there for a short time before I PCSed. His passion for gear was clear and present; we often talked about opening a business because of all the business contacts we amassed while in PM, CSS. I loved doing the Beavis and Butthead routine with him (to Kristy’s great dismay).

    We missed you guys in Olathe, KS where we moved from the development across the street from where you bought.

    It’s been a number of years since I’ve spoken to him. I’m so sad that I didn’t keep in better contact. Life truly is too short. We all have lost a great man!

    Semper Fidelis,
    Jim & Kristy Williams

  19. Trey says:

    Not much to add here…great to see that there was no mis-interpretation about Dave – a patriot, a gentleman and a scholar by any measure.
    R.I.P. my friend.

  20. brian abrams says:

    Dave had asked me many times over the past 2yrs if i would take him up Mt Raineer…he longed for the mountains and the challenges and peace they bring. After seeing pics and hearing of I climb i did earlier this summer, he was all fired up and ready for the hours of PT needed to tackle it. The climb is still on and I will bring some special memento to place on the summit so he can stand and look down on the Pacific Northwest which he loved so much. I will also carry a jacket he kept at my house here in Seattle that he always wore when we went hiking/running and deposit into a crevasse for safe keeping so that his spirit will remain connected to the mountains for eternity.

    Don’t sweat it buddy, we have one last mission to accomplish together, of course I got you back…

  21. scott lustig says:

    Brian, Thank you for eloquently detailing your words which describe Dave. I was privileged to know Dave from working with him at The North Face. Our time as co-workers evolved into a friendship which I have cherished. He was bright, articulate, funny and always put his fellow man first. I learned so much from him. He taught me how to be a better person and for this I will always be indebted to him. In fact I can honestly say, Dave had the unique gift to ensure everyone who had the privilege to get to know him, learned from him how to be a better person.
    It goes without saying, Dave will be severely missed. I will especially miss debating with him how a kid who grew up in Montana became a Lakers, Dodgers and Cowboys fan.

  22. PamB12 says:

    Per Tammy, for those that would like to honor Dave, donations can be made in his name to the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society.


    Still taking care of the troops!
    Semper Fi!

  23. Rod says:

    I was in contact with Dave Ruiz because I’ve selected 782Gear for a friend who’s distributing tactical gear in Europe. I loved the fact that they could come up with something really new and of a real value for outdoor activities.
    I had many contact with him by mail to discuss products and designs. He always seems so enthusiastic and open-minded.
    You could always tell in his answers that he cared about your opinion and was not there only to “do the job” or “sell stuff”.
    He was a class act in the business!

    May he rest in peace and my most sincere condolences to his loved ones.

  24. Dan Pezold says:

    I am here in Fredericksburg getting ready to attend the funeral mass at St Mary’s for our good friend Dave Ruiz. My prayers and condolences are with Dave’s family as we all mourn the loss of this great man. He gave so much to all of us each and every day. Dave will be missed tremendously, but he will never be forgotten. May he rest in peace.

  25. MSkelly says:

    Tammy and all of the Ruiz family, my deepest condolences for your loss. I had the privilege of starting my Navy career with Dave at NAPS and USNA. He was an exceptional leader and shipmate who will be greatly missed.

  26. Tim Riis says:


    My sincere condolences to you and your family. Though I had not seen Dave in some time, I will always remember him as my good friend and neighbor from across the hall at NAPS. Many hours were spent together laughing and enjoying each others company. No matter what the situation, Dave always had a smile on his face and a funny comment to lighten the mood. Just thinking of him now brings a great smile to my face and a special joy in my heart. He was truly a great guy. Again my sincerest condolences. Semper fi Marine!

  27. David Weiss says:

    Dear Ruiz family & friends,
    My heart felt condolences for your loss. Dave was a classmate at USNA and at TBS/USMC. He was funny when needed, serious when he had to be (still funny even when he was serious) a fine shipmate, Marine and Leader who will be greatly missed. Semper Fi!

  28. Alice & Barry Foley says:

    Dear Tammy,
    We’re blessed that you and your family have been our brothers and sisters at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Spotsylvania. All of the Ruiz family and David are in our prayers. ” The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and no torment will ever touch them. In the eyes of the foolish they seem to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace…..they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them. In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble.” (Wisdom 3:1-9)

  29. Andy Lipka says:

    To the entire Ruiz family –
    I met Dave in 1990 when we were both part of the Fighting Fifth Marines. Dave and I were Captains in the Logistics shop of the MEB and we were on ship together. We were young, strong but a little scared, yet determined to get to the Gulf and to get home and bring our Marines home safely. I can honestly say that Dave was one of the finest Marines I had the pleasure to serve with. He could obtain anything and during our time in the gulf – he did just that. From pallets of M16s to pens and paper, Dave’s acquisition talents were unmatched. When we were in need of extra support vehicles, Dave pointed us to ‘borrow’ a few Mercedes Benz water and fuel trucks and he would always allow the Army to graciously ‘donate’ anything they had laying around.
    Dave was a key to why our Regiment became so effective, why we were successful in the Gulf and he was someone that always challenged me to be a better Marine and logistician. I can see from what I read, he continued to live his life as a truly great man. Sadly, our paths took us in separate directions, however I can say that I felt true pain to hear of Dave’s passing. I am only comforted (and hope you can be) by the thought of Dave’s smile, his incredible humor and sarcasm that made every tough day just a little better. I was honored to be able to serve with this great man and miss him terribly. My condolences to the Ruiz family – my heart, thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Semper Fi-
    Andy Lipka

  30. Bob Kinney says:

    Dave was like a brother to me. He was the best acquistion officer I ever worked with, and his impact on the Marine Corps, as well as the other services, was tremendous. His efforts have postively impacted hundreds of thousands of troops. His professionalism, passion, leadership skills and sense of humor were second to none. He will be sorely missed.

  31. Jim Luther says:

    I met Dave on summer cruise at the academy. Immediately liked him and appreciated his sense of humor and demeanor. We spent less than 6 weeks together on cruise, but by the end i felt like I had known him 20 years. Truly one of the great ones that will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with all who new him and especially his family.

  32. Tammy says:

    I hadnt checked here in a few weeks and am so touched at the memories people are sharing.

    A few of the people who have posted were at his service in VA and heard this, but I include it for those who werent there. Many of the people there were supporting me (many were families I had cared for when their babies died) and might not have known Dave well, I wanted to give people a snapshot into our world.

    Eulogies are not a part of Catholic funeral tradition, we have a solemn Mass with stories and tales to be told at another time…this letter was read by the Priest after the Mass but just before people processed out. The Priest was a gem..he was even gracious when I dropped a few “sailor words” after someone said something inappropriate to me.

    I wasnt sure how things would go that day, but as things flowed, I got to stand just outside the door and greet/hug everyone (it was a good distraction to them taking the casket away behind me for the trip to Montana).

    Thank you everyone for being here and for your outpouring of love to our whole family since Davids sudden death. You may notice that his family is not here, we all fly out to join them soon to have a second funeral at the Catholic Church in Polson, Montana where his parents were married and he was Baptized. He will be buried within a few miles of where he was born. His physical return home seems to me a wonderful symbol of his spiritual return home to the God who made him.

    He was born in Polson and grew up in Kalispell. He went to Naval Academy Prep School in Newport RI and onto the Naval Academy where he Majored in getting in trouble and having fun. The gentlemen who did the readings today began their friendships with him at Prep School and the Naval Academy. Dave and I met in an establishment that served celebratory beverages the summer before our Junior years at school. We didn’t marry at graduation, I took a job in Charlottesville and he was in Quantico for USMC Basic.

    In order to see him, I drove through a town I thought had the funniest name, Spotsylvania, I never imagined we would live there. We continued out courting in Virginia then he moved to Florida for flight school…we married after the distance between Florida and Virginia became burdensome. He eventually decided that flight school wasn’t for him and he changed jobs in the Marine Corps and we were off to California.

    California was a fun time in our lives, we had Louie in 1989 and I entered the Church in 1991 just weeks before Joe was born & we moved to a beautiful town near lake Tahoe in Nevada. In 1994, we moved to Stafford and had Julia. It was during his time in Systems Command when I felt like he made his biggest contribution to the world. We were nowhere near a war with anyone but everyday he worked on new body armor for the Marines and he argued for it to be stronger than everyone else had wanted. Years later, many Marines survived the current war because of his commitment.

    Moves to Monterey, CA, & Kansas preceded us coming back to Fredericksburg and God allowing us to return to old friendships here & make new ones. His retirement brought chances to work at The North Face and start his own company.

    He was very proud of the work that I dad caring for families. I would have never been able to do my work if Dave had not provided us such a stable base of support for me at home…in reality my contributions to our city were also his.

    Dave had an amazing mind and quick wit…he loved Star Wars prequels and Matrix sequels. His biggest source of contentment and joy in the last few years was our grandson Augustin who called him “PA” and preferred him over me at any opportunity. He had recently taken to reading classics and cutting walking paths deep into our forest.

    Last night his former rooomates from the Naval Academy arrived in town having dropped everything to be here…they were the kinds of friends who would give each other kidneys and that was the only kind of friends he had.

    In the few days I have had to reflect since Dave’s death, I have realized that what I admired most about him wasnt perfection but his willingness to keep striving to improve. He received a great deal of strength from going to confession here regularly…in the rooms right over there….it was really his launching point for life.

    His life began with Baptism, was strengthened by the eucharist, was build around a marriage and fueled by confession…he really lived a life of the Sacraments and it really was a life redeemed and well lived.

    The kids and I loved him dearly and his absence will cut deeply for a long long time. We thank you for being with us at this Mass where we commit him back to his creator and ask that same creator for strength ourselves.