2014 : Frederick Ruffner Dies, Founder of Reference Book Powerhouse Gale Research

August 12, 2022 all-day

Frederick Gale Ruffner Jr., who founded one of the largest reference book publishing companies in the world from a rented desk in Detroit’s now-vacant Book Tower, died Tuesday following a long illness. He was 88.

Mr. Ruffner was working as a market researcher in 1954 when he attempted to locate a directory of trade associations. He discovered there wasn’t one.

Seeing an opportunity, he quit his job and with his wife, Mary, produced the Encyclopedia of Associations in 1956 and began the Gale Research Co. They soon ditched their $5-a-month office in the Book Tower for bigger quarters in the Penobscot Building.

Gale Research grew to 400 employees and published more than 2,000 books, including library reference classics such as “Contemporary Authors” and the “Dictionary of Literary Biography.”

Frederick Ruffner sold Gale Research in 1985 for $66 million to what was then International Thomson. Gale remains in business today as a Farmington Hills-based brand of Cengage Learning with about 550 employees.

For the full article, see J. C. Reindl, “Frederick Ruffner, founder of reference book powerhouse Gale Research, dies at 88”, Detroit Free Press, August 15, 2014.

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