Celebrating the life of

Thomas B. Ruff

Passed away on August 18, 2020

Thomas B. Ruff

Thomas B. Ruff, former Attraction Division President for The Biltmore Company, died on Tuesday at his home in Savannah, GA. He was 65 years old.

Tom recently retired after 25 years at Biltmore, where he oversaw guest operations and the estate’s hospitality functions. His expertise was instrumental in elevating Biltmore from an attraction to a destination, with the opening of The Inn on Biltmore Estate and Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate. 

Prior to joining Biltmore, Ruff worked as an independent hospitality consultant. A veteran of the food and beverage industry, he also held key management positions with Marriott Hotels and Resorts and Hyatt Hotels Corporation. 

Ruff was a Certified Food and Beverage Executive (CFBE) and Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA) with the American Hotel and Motel Association. In addition, he served on numerous boards including the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority Board, Manna Food Bank, and the North Carolina Restaurant Association, and was a member of both the North Carolina Hotel and Motel Association and Southern Innkeepers. He held a degree in Food Service and Housing Administration from Penn State University, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Tom’s career in hospitality brought him great joy, leading to many long-term friendships and countless professional accolades. He was honored as “Man of the Year” by the School of Hospitality at his beloved alma mater, Penn State University. Tom had a life-long passion for food, creating both personal and professional opportunities to bring people together across a dining table. Honored with Bailli Provincial Honoraire status in La Chaine des Rotisseurs, Tom was an instrumental part of the food culture of Asheville. He loved to cook for his children, entertain friends, play golf and travel.

He was preceded in death by his parents Clarence B. Ruff and Nelda R. Ruff. He is survived by his wife Deborah Moore-Ruff, children Taylor, Jack and Ryan Ruff, as well as sister, Mrs. Robert M. Neurohr, and brother Gregory L. Ruff.  Niece and nephew, Amy and Robert Neurohr, a great-niece Wynter, and beloved dogs Buddy and Missy.

A reception for family, friends and close associates will be held on August 30 at Deerpark on Biltmore Estate from 3-5:30 p.m., followed by a private family service. 





I am so very sorry for your loss. Tom was one of the finest gentlemen I ever had the honor of working with. He will not be forgotten.

- Jim Owens, Maggie Valley, NC

A candle has been lit!

- Linda Ruff Neurohr

Please accept my deepest sympathy. Tom was called many thinks by those who knew him: Ruffy, Smooth, T Ruff, TBR and a BRASS Pledge Brother but none better suited him than to be called a True Gentleman. May he rest in God's peace and joy. You and he are in my prayers. Phi Alpha Pal, T Barr '77

- timothy barr, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Peggy and I were so sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. Please accept our deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers. I met Tom our first day at PSU while standing in line waiting to see what classes we were in; at that point, we both realized we were FSHA majors. I subsequently pledged SAE with him and saw him almost every day for 4 years. Tom was the embodiment of true hospitality and his seven pledge brothers, along with the entire fraternity came to depend on him for all things...and he never disappointed his brothers. Tom went on to a great career in hospitality and was honored in many ways for the body of good works he did for many causes. But above all, he never lost his sense of humor and the gentle way he was. May he Rest In Peace. Phi Alpha.

- Dave Scypinski, Charleston, SC

Deb, I am so sorry. I never got to meet him but he sounds like a very wonderful person.

- Carol Sue Moore, Jacksonville, Florida 32246

I’m saddened to hear of Tom’s passing. I enjoyed working with him during my time at Biltmore. He was always kind and gracious. My deepest condolences and prayers of comfort for the family.

- Angela Guiffrida, Asheville , NC

A candle has been lit!

I photographed Tom many times for Biltmore. What a gentleman and class act he was. He never rushed me and always made me laugh with his stories. I am saddened.

- Sandra Stambaugh, Asheville, NC

My deepest sympathy and condolences. Tom was a strong and passionate leader and a kind and gracious man who adored his family.. I am shocked and deeply saddened to learn he has passed. Sending blessings and prayers of comfort to his family.

- Charlene Boettcher, Cedar Mountain , NC

Raquel and I extend our condolences. Tom was an exceptional leader and positively influenced so many careers/lives in the Hospitality Industry. I'm forever grateful for Tom extending me my first GM position at Biltmore and teaching me for the 7 years I spent at this great organization. I had the pleasure of watching his kids grow and even hiring his son Ryan while he attends college. RIP Tom, thoughts, and prayers to the Ruff family.

- Douglas Hustad, Charlotte, NC

The world lost a wonderful man in Tom Ruff. He will be missed by so many as he was thought so well of in life. To his wife and children; he was a good man. My husband Scott and I send your kindest thoughts and deepest sympathy’s.

- Penny Olson, Weaverville, NC

The world lost a wonderful man in Tom Ruff. He will be missed by so many as he was thought so well of in life. To his wife and children; he was a good man. My husband Scott and I send your kindest thoughts and deepest sympathy’s.

- Penny Olson, Weaverville, NC

I am honored and blessed to have known Tom Ruff. He was always larger than life. He will not be forgotten and will live forever in our hearts.

- Candida Askew, Hot Springs, NC

A candle has been lit!



Please accept our deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers. Amelia and I loved working for Tom and babysitting his sweet children.

- Lori Caldwell, Amelia Buckner, LEICESTER, North Carolina

Services under the direction of:

Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel