Saturday, September 29, 2012

1912 Whenever Human Life is in Peril, Heroism is Inspired

The Times Dispatch
Richmond Virginia
September 29 1912

GIVES HIS LEG TO SAVE GIRL'S LIFE


Newsboy is Happy Over Sacrifice He Will Make To-Day


(Special to The Times-Dispatch)

Gary, Ind., September 28.-- When William Rugh appears again at his newspaper stand he will be supported by two crutches instead of one.

When Miss Ethel Smith is able to go home from the Gary General Hospital she will have an excellent chance to get well.

Both of these conditions will be the result of the generous offer of the forty-one-year-old newsboy to submit to an operation which will remove his left leg that live skin may be obtained to graft upon the body and legs of Miss Smith.  The girl was burned while riding on a motorcycle recently, and the doctors said her life would be saved to-morrow.  The doctors will take the leg offered by Rugh, and they will use the cuticle that is on it to save Miss Smith.

To-morrow, some time after 11 o'clock, Rugh will be placed upon the operating table.  In an adjoining surgery doctors will have prepared Miss Smith for the delicate process of grafting live skin upon the places that were burned.

Rugh happily went about his business of selling papers at Sixth Avenue and Broadway to-night.  He is crippled by the shortness of the leg which the surgeons are to take from him, and he uses one crutch in walking about the newsstand.

"Oh, I don't mind," he said, when asked if he did no dread the ordeal which he will undergo to-morrow.  "I will get  another crutch and get along nearly as well."

"But you'll be in the hospital for some time after the operation, and you will suffer a lot," was suggested.

"Yes," smiled Rugh, "But I'll be saving a girl's life, and there's a lot of satisfaction in knowing that."

Rugh has never met Miss Smith.


Post Script
After doing some research I discovered that William Rugh gave more than his leg to save Miss Smith, he gave his life.  Billy developed pneumonia and died on October 18, 1912.   The funeral was held outdoors because so many people wanted to pay tribute to this extraordinary man. That day 25,000 people gathered with the mayor of Gary Indiana leading the funeral procession to pay their last respects to William Rugh.

Read here for more information and to see a picture of the William Rugh funeral.

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