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ICON Awards 2022: John A. Ruth, Newman Comley and Ruth

John A. RuthThroughout John A. Ruth’s long career, he has never strayed far from home.

Born and raised in Jefferson City, he chose his hometown to build a law firm and raise a family. He left just long enough to get his education and launch his career, before returning.

“I ran 30 miles up the road to the University of Missouri and my undergraduate work, and also went to law school there,” he said. “I spent four years practicing in Harrisonville and then moved back home and helped start my firm.”

Ruth majored in accounting and believes that left him well-equipped for his focus on business law at Newman Comley and Ruth, where he handles commercial transactions and litigation matters, employment law and real estate disputes, and personal injury and death claims.

Going back much further into his childhood, Ruth recalls his very first job, which likely laid the groundwork for his interest in business and entrepreneurship.

“I threw papers for the Jefferson City newspaper and had my own route,” he said.

Every two weeks, he walked house to house, knocking on 65 doors to collect $2.40 from each customer, paid the newspaper its share of the proceeds and pocketed the rest.

“A portion of $2.40 doesn’t sound like much money to most people, but for a 12-year-old, it was plenty,” he said.

From this experience, Ruth learned how to manage a checking account, make deposits, run his own small business and hone his people skills.

“I had a lot of elderly customers who loved talking to me, and that’s how I learned how to communicate and get along with people,” he said.

While growing up, Ruth and his family lived in a couple of different neighborhoods, and attorneys lived next door in both.

“One lawyer was loud and flamboyant, and I always liked talking with him,” Ruth said. “He had gone to Tulane University Law School, always wore white suits and was a character.”

The other lawyer was the opposite – quiet, reserved and dignified.

“It was interesting to see that lawyers come in all different styles,” Ruth said. “They both talked with me about the work they did, and I believe they influenced my desire to be a lawyer.”

At 64, Ruth enjoys inspiring young lawyers just as he was inspired during his youth.

He is a Fellow of the Missouri Bar Foundation and a community leader, serving past terms on the Board of Education for the Jefferson City School District and the Cole County Planning Commission.

When Ruth is off the clock, he likes to putter around his small farm, doing home repairs and other projects. He enjoys welding and has developed what he calls “pretty decent carpentry skills.”

ICON Awards 2022