Dr. William J. Rucker was born in Nashville in 1898. Educated at Fisk University, he earned his medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Tennessee and arrived in Cleveland around 1929. It was nine years later that Dr. Rucker and his wife Mildred moved to Painesville, Ohio. For the next 42 years his impact was felt in the community. Mildred left an even longer legacy before her death in 1992. Both became true cornerstones of not only the African-American Community living in Lake County but in the fabric of our entire county history. Here is a brief tribute to Dr. William J. and Mildred Rucker.
Dr. Rucker joined the staff at Lake County Memorial Hospital in 1938. At the time, he was the first African-American physician to serve Lake County. Rucker also entered into private practice which he conducted from his Painesville residence. Also civic minded, Dr. Rucker helped build the St. John Baptist Church in Painesville as well as serving as Chairman of the Deacon Committee. He was also a member in good standing of the Ross Bethel Lodge #105, Starlight Lodge #443, NAACP, and President of the Lake County Garden Club. Dr. Rucker served his adopted community until his passing in June, 1980.
It has been reported that Mildred Rucker (1903-1992) literally touched the lives of every African-American born in Painesville between 1940-1987. Mildred Rucker served as nurse and personal secretary for her husband's private practice beginning in 1944. From their home on W. Jackson Street, She mentored hundreds of children in her lifetime. She took them on field trips and introduced them to life experiences beyond the rural Painesville of the day. Keeping the young busy and engaged in learning / community became a life-long passion. Her passing in 1992 was the end of an era.
Both Dr. and Mrs. Rucker served Painesville and Lake County much like an underground spring. They quietly made the ground above them that much better by their presence. Both of them may be lesser known footnotes in the annals of Lake County history yet they are just another hidden gem worth remembering.