This week, faculty and students mourn the loss of someone loved on campus. Ruel Eneboe, the joyful and friendly Common Grounds barista, passed away just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Many students were affected by the loss of someone who truly was a light on campus.
Eneboe faithfully served campus in his role at Common Grounds for years. For a few months, Common Grounds had an employee of the month, and Ruel won each time. There is a rumor that the reason the award stopped is that no one had a chance against him. He took great care of the coffee shop and was encouraging to the student employees there, helping them problem solve and proactively taking care of their needs.
In his obituary, Eneboe was described as a barista, mentor and listening ear on campus. Furthermore, it was said that “Ruel left a mark and made many students and people better with his sense of humor, can-do attitude, and ‘slow and easy wins the race’ attitude.”
Day after day, he showed up to campus to serve students and put a smile on their faces. Ana Muilenburg, a student campus dining employee who knew Ruel well said, “Ruel was the type of guy that you could go to when you were having a bad day and by the time you were done talking to him the day just seemed better.”
No one ever knew Eneboe to be in a bad mood. Jimmy Tidmore, a frequent Common Grounds customer, called him “a beacon of light on campus.” It seems that many students saw Eneboe as more than a barista but also as a mentor.
Students who knew him well could also attest to his willingness to help students with their studies. Before his work at Northwestern College, Ruel spent over 30 years teaching. He began teaching during his years in Liberia for the Peace Corps, and then went on to teach freshman science, physics and chemistry at Canton High School. Students came to him with questions about science, and he always found the time to help them.
Jessi Carver, a student studying to become a biology teacher, said “Whenever I’d get a coffee in the morning, he’d ask, ‘How’d that organic chemistry test go?’ or ‘Did you finish your insect collection?’” Through short interactions with students, Ruel showed them that he valued them. Carver added “Ruel was often the cause of my first smile every day. He had no reason to remember my class schedule, but he did it anyway as a way to show he cared.”
Ruel’s wife Shelley Eneboe is also a member of the Northwestern dining staff. Through this difficult season, she has continued to serve campus through her roles at the Hub and in catering. Campus is lucky to have her gentle and loving spirit. She is known by many students on campus as “Grandma.”
Last Easter the couple invited Jessica Shelton, a student from California, into their home for Easter. “They are both so loving and generous,” Shelton said.
Ruel Eneboe blessed campus with his constant upbeat attitude and care for students. He will always be remembered as more than a barista but also a friend, a tutor, a mentor and a light. During this hard time of loss, students are remembering Ruel fondly and keeping his family in their prayers.