You can't see them, but Dana Ruhl wears a number of hats in his role as the Hannibal School District's business manager.
Communicator, spokesman and number cruncher are just a few of things he does.
Everything he does is with premium professionalism and etiquette. And after doing so for 13 years this February for the Hannibal School District, Ruhl is retiring at the end of the school year.
"I'll be 62 soon and my health is good and my wife's (health) is good. It's a little bit scary retiring and being a little bit concerned about the financial end of things, however, I'm healthy, my wife is healthy and I'm leaving at a time that's good. I've come to that point."
Ruhl worked for Moorman Manufacturing in Quincy for 25 years before coming to the Hannibal School District, but he was no stranger. He is a Hannibal native and came up through the Hannibal School District as a student, as did his son and daughter. Ruhl graduated from Hannibal High School in 1969 and then moved on to college at Northeast Missouri State (Truman State).
"Like a lot of people, never thought I'd be working in my own community," he said. "I was planning on traveling great distances to work, and like some people, wound up coming back."
Things have obviously changed over the years. Hannibal Middle School was Hannibal Junior High, consisting of grades 7, 8 and 9. Korf Gym was finishing his senior year, but no one was allowed to use it until the next school year.
"One of the things I'm maddest about was Korf Gym was finished up my senior year and nobody got to use it until the class of 1970," Ruhl said. "I wanted to be able to participate at Korf Gym and didn't get to."
Before Korf opened, Patterson Gym inside Hannibal High School was the site for all the winter sports games.
"The stands, very limited, but I can tell you every Friday night when there was a game in there, it was packed. It was packed out in the hallways. It was loud," Ruhl remembers. "I know it's loud in Korf, but the volume of the cheering and everything that went on in Patterson would just ring your ears and we loved it as kids."
Yet he says some things are still the same in the Hannibal School District, even from his days as a student.
"What's the same is — I didn't realize it when I was a kid — but I was being educated and taught by people who cared for me. Today, I can see kids are being taught, educated by people that care for them," Ruhl said. "I've always had a lot of respect for teachers because I saw that in my own wife (Linda, who retired from teaching six years ago). I saw her dedication all the time that she put in at home, as well as at school, since coming to work for the school district and watching that for 13 years, my respect for the education profession has grown profoundly."
Page 2 of 3 - His years in business have produced his own philosophy on many things and when it came to being a representative of the school district on any level or for whatever reason, he has stuck to what he says is the best way to go about things.
"I've represented any speaking on behalf of the Hannibal School District, I've patterned after the way I look at life personally. I look at life personally as the way you relate to people. Always be communicating, treat people fairly and consistently. If there are guidelines, policies, rules that are set up, everybody falls under that. Being consistent is important, realizing sometimes in life there are some things that happen that are important, realizing sometimes in life there are some things that happen that are exceptional in somebody's life and you give them a little bit of a break," Ruhl said. "I place, all of us, place kids as No. 1 and I place the rest of the staff and employees of the school district as No. 1a. That's not meant to down play the staff — when I say staff, I mean everybody. It takes teachers, it takes leaders, administrators, custodians, food service, transportation, maintenance. It takes all those people to create a good, safe and clean environment for kids, which makes a difference in education. I've seen that first-hand."
Ruhl's professional approach is an example and admired by his co-workers. He is always given high praise for his personality and proper presentation. Even his attire gets attention. You may have see him at district functions in a full suit and on rare occasions just a Polo and nice slacks, but that too has Ruhl's refined professional philosophy.
"I don't consider myself any better or any less than any individual in this school district that works here. I consider us equals. I am blessed with the opportunity to have a job to do what I do. I feel like in representing the school on a normal, regular day that the shirt and tie — and if I'm in a meeting somewhere the coat goes on — that's me and it seems appropriate. It's just part of me, it's just the way I've always been," Ruhl said. "The guidelines for me are when students and staff are not here, I get casual. And I enjoy it. Hey, I'm not unlike anyone else, when I get home I dress down and get real comfortable."
When retirement comes June 30 the plan for Ruhl and his wife is to spend more time together traveling and being with not only their two children, but their five grandchildren too. There are some projects to get done at home and at his mother-in-law's and the extra time of retirement should allow the projects to become complete. You just might see him shopping for materials at Lowes. When it comes to traveling, he said there's a lot to see in this country.
Page 3 of 3 - "I have not seen our own United States that much," he said. "I've had the opportunity a couple of times go out of the country, and I've not seen all of this country. My sites are set on seeing some of the sites within our own borders.