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Ruger Restores Rescued Revolver

by Jim Bequette   |  July 6th, 2011 48

Who would have thought or predicted that a 76-year-old grandmother from New Jersey, Gerry Kennedy, would become fast friends with Ruger president/CEO Mike Fifer due in part to a thank you letter she sent him?

Gerry Kennedy with her Ruger Single-Six stainless revolver

Gerry Kennedy has a life long passion for the outdoors that includes hunting in Maine every year.

But this lady isn’t typical of some retirees who in their golden years flock like snowbirds to southern climes in Florida or Arizona every winter to enjoy the warmth, sunshine, and maybe a little shuffleboard, which they view as a big part of their “outdoor activities.” Nope, rather, this gun-totin’ lady, who had overcome the recent death of her husband and some serious health issues, heads every year to the upper reaches of Maine in the snow and cold of winter to enjoy camp in a remote cabin with her family and friends, do a little shooting, and when the time is right, heads into the woods to hunt deer and other critters.

She’s an amazing lady by all counts… .

It turns out her contact with Ruger’s president is more short term than her long-standing love affair with a Ruger single-action revolver. Her husband, Wes, had given her a new .22 rimfire Single-Six in 1986 as a Christmas present. Apparently, the Single-Six was always at home on her hip when she traversed the woodlands in Maine. She loved that gun, the way it looked, the way it handled, and the way it shot.

Well, the worst thing possible happened in 2002 when on one of her hunting trips she lost the revolver in a heavy snow in the woods of Maine and couldn’t find it despite looking under every bush and tree in the area where she thought it had accidentally fallen to the ground.

Ruger Single-Six recovered after 8 years in the woods.

The Ruger was in rough shape after eight years of exposure.

 

She was heartbroken. The gun that she had become so attached to, that meant so much to her because it was a gift from her husband, was lost on the forest floor to rust and eventually rot away–or so she thought.

With the help of a metal detector, Gerry's sons John and Joe recovered the Ruger.

With the help of a metal detector, Gerry's sons John and Joe recovered the Ruger.

But after more than eight years passed, her son, John, and his brother, Joe decided to become more proactive and with the help of a metal detector, headed back out in the wooded area where they thought she had lost the stainless Ruger.

While the revolver probably wasn’t worth more than $300, you would have thought she had lost a Perazzi or Purdey–or her life savings–if you asked her about her emotional attachment to that Ruger and how much she valued it.

Gerry Kennedy beams with happiness when her revolver was finally recovered.

Gerry Kennedy beams with happiness when her revolver was finally recovered.

“Her father took her hunting all the time,” noted John. “She met my dad when she was 15 and when they got engaged he gave her a gun (an H&R 20-gauge single-shot Topper) instead of an engagement ring. While they were dating back in the early ’50s, they didn’t always go to the drive-in theater, they sometimes went to the town dump to shoot rats.

“She still hunts at age 76. She recently had back surgery but she won’t give up her passion for hunting and shooting. She’s one tough lady.”

Gerry and Wes had eight children, and you better believe it, Gerry demanded that all eight sons and daughters take a hunter safety course.

But back to the Ruger. “I never owned a handgun before, and couldn’t believe this was actually mine,” Gerry noted.

“She fell in love with that gun,” John added. “You have no idea what this gun meant to her. When she lost it she was devastated. We advertised in the local paper and offered a reward for the gun’s return, but no luck.”

“To say I was devastated the afternoon I lost that gun doesn’t begin to explain the shame I felt,” Gerry added. “I didn’t want to leave the woods or the state of Maine until I found it. I can’t put into words how it felt to go home with an empty holster.”

Long story short, with the help of the metal detector, John found the revolver.  The stainless was weather worn and a little bit worse for wear having survived eight harsh summers and winters on the Maine forest floor. “We were so happy we were hugging each other in the pouring rain when we found it,” John said as he relived the emotional moment. But the gun needed to be refurbished. The grips had rotted to the point of breaking away from the grip frame, there was rust around the front and rear sights, and the gun just needed a thorough ground-up restoration.

The grips had rotted to the point of breaking away from the grip frame, there was rust around the front and rear sights, and the gun just needed a thorough ground-up restoration.

The grips had rotted to the point of breaking away from the grip frame, there was rust around the front and rear sights, and the gun just needed a thorough ground-up restoration.

 

John contacted Gil Oliveira in Ruger’s customer service center in Newport, New Hampshire, and asked about getting a set of wood replacement grips. But Ruger told him to ship the gun to them and they would inspect the revolver and take care of the rest.

“We wanted it to be a surprise to Mom when we got the gun back. To our surprise when we got it back it was in pristine condition–like new,” John noted. “We knew what it meant to her. She got choked up and nearly cried when she saw the refinished Ruger.

The revolver was returned to Ruger for a new set of grips.  What came back was a completely refurbished part of this American family's history.

The revolver was returned to Ruger for a new set of grips. What came back was a completely refurbished part of this American family's history.

 

“When we got the gun back from Ruger, and Mom opened the box, she fell in love with it all over again,” John added. “That Ruger revolver is a piece of our family history. We were all so extremely happy with the work Ruger had done for us, and we simply can’t thank them enough.”

“It was absolutely beautiful,” Gerry added. “I was floored by the graciousness of the people at Ruger.”

When Gerry Kennedy opened the box and saw the Ruger fully restored, she fell in love with it all over again.

When Gerry Kennedy opened the box and saw the Ruger fully restored, she fell in love with it all over again.

 

To top off a great storyline, Ruger waived all fees for the work done.

Mike Fifer’s reaction to this story that has a happy ending? “What a thrill it is for all of us at Ruger when we get to help out on a wonderful story like this,” noted Fifer, who genuinely enjoys interacting with Ruger customers. “ I am so impressed by the persistence and rugged determination of Gerry and her sons to keep looking for her Single-Six for eight years. They are our kind of folks, and we’re proud to make firearms for them.”

As you would imagine from a Guns & Ammo reader, Gerry didn't let the barrel of her restored Ruger stay cold and clean for long.

As you would imagine from a Guns & Ammo reader, Gerry didn't let the barrel of her restored Ruger stay cold and clean for long.

 

A tip of the Guns & Ammo cap to Mike Fifer and Ruger for showing they really do care about their customers—even that hard-hunting, handgun-carrying grandmother in the Garden State—and to Gerry’s family for never giving up in looking for that lost revolver that meant so much to their mom and for telling a heart-felt story describing how important firearms are to families across this great country of ours….

  • Karl

    This is why almost all of my firearms are Rugers. They stand for American quality and integrity. What a great story.

    Karl

  • Steve

    Ruger quality and customer service is 1st class! Kudos to Ruger and Mr. Fifer for this generous gift. Hopefully Gerry will enjoy it for many years to come!

  • Cameron

    LCP in my pocket all the time…couldn't be prouder.

    • Big Mike

      Me too!

  • http://msn Dave

    I go bye the factory ever time I go to my daughters in claremont nh I wish I could take a tour of the factory and bring home some samples

  • Frank

    I own and use several Ruger handguns, A Super Blackhawk (old style), and an LCP which I carry every where. I am currently waiting for an SR1911 when my dealer can get one for me.

  • Ken

    The two sons deserve a hearty handshake for recovering the revolver.

    Says volumes about them and the family.

    Good show,Sturm & Ruger!

    • Edith

      This is my aunt and cousins.My aunt and uncle always went to Maine hunting together.She is an avid hunter.She even shot a black bear years ago.Way to go Aunt Gerry!!!!

      • Edith

        Oops forgot to say that I am very proud of my cousins Joe and John.Thanks for finding her gun your dad would be very proud of you two also.

  • Sidney Busch

    I am so proud of Gerry for the passion she has for hunting and for her children raised as true Americans with real values and that "sticktuitivness" we have grown so fond of in America. So happy the kids found the revolver for mom. Additionally, a big thanks to Ruger for reminding us that our manufacturers are the best in the world. Their thoughtfulness is also a reminder that they really CARE.

    Very Respectfully,

    Sid

  • Dale

    A nice story with a happy ending. A good reason to buy a Ruger, they should use this in their advertising.

  • http://N/A Lopaka

    Strum & Ruger is all American gun Mfg. company that stands

    back of there products 110%. I had a magazine that was jammed in my hand gun and e-mailed Ruger about what I was having problem unloading the magazine and they

    sent me a replacement magazine at no cost to me. I will purchase Ruger guns as a very happy customer for life.

  • Bill Law

    This story just feels good on all fronts. Great Mom, great kids, and I love my own Rugers even more.

  • COL(ret) Jim Hampton

    Wish Ruger had been willing to do the same for me when my Super Single Six convertible. It was in a firesafe that got hosed down during a fire, got wet and began to rust during the several days it took me to get home on emergency leave from Sarajevo in '98. They wanted to "trade" it for another Ruger . . . I wanted to keep it for sentimental reasons . . . my parents gave it to me for graduation from high school. Ended up having a private gunsmith coat it with Teflon.

  • Tim Baltad

    Most of what I have is Ruger. After AZ and their fight with Obummer regarding the border I do all the puchasing I can with companies located in Arizona. Even before that every Ruger I owned was dependable. I can't recommend them high enough.

  • John Kennedy

    Thanks all for the nice comments! I would have been thrilled with just some new grips, and would have remained a loyal Ruger customer as well. (I have always been a Ruger fan) What Mike Fifer and his team at Ruger did for my mom and our family just blew us away! To say he locked us in as loyal fans forever is an understatement. A great thanks to Jim Bequette and Scott Mayer at Guns and Ammo for sharing our story!

  • Leonard Avery

    I bought my first pistol in 1965, a Ruger Std. Md., used at a gun show. After 30 yrs of shooting it in NRA matches I finally sent it back to the factory for rebluing. Ruger not only made the outside look like new but replaced all the inside parts too. My total cost. $40.

  • warren loendorf

    Another resson to buy American from a great American company.

  • Rudy Guajardo

    A great American story, about a great American family and a great American company. God Bless America……….

  • bigjohn

    Rugers are quality guns no matter what some people think the contrary. There products have become better quality over the years. I am bais because I am a 30 year Ruger collector. I have never had a problem with a Ruger gun that they didn't fix or charge a resonable price to repair. I am sorry that they have dropped the 45 colt 5.5 inch Redhawk and other calibers for the Redhawk like the 357, and 41 mag. I am glad that I purchased my 7.5 inch guns in every caliber they made made in the 80s. They are quaility guns and I would not part with them for anything. Most of my big game rifles are Rugers, Savages, and Remingtons all quality firearms. Ruger keep up the good work even though I think your new 22 single six is to costly at 600 pluse dollars and it doesn't even come in 22 mag. You missed up there by not offering it in that caliber. You new bolt action 357 should be offered in 44 mag and 45 colt too.

  • Rod Brandenburg

    Good job Ruger, we are an authorized dealer in Longmont, Colorado. We are proud to state that Ruger stands behind their products, and we are proud to sell GUNS made in the good ol' U.S. of A . Stories like this make me glad I live in the good ol' U.S. of America. Grandpa's Pawn and Gun. Selling products like Ruger's instead of cheap imports is good for our LONG term business .

  • Walter

    I love my Ruger. I sent it in with a small problem when it was brand new and they tuned it for me for free. A great company and a great firearm.

  • Patric Upton

    I have had to return to separate guns to Ruger for emergency repairs. The first was a Single-Six whose hammer pivot pin broke when I did something stupid (fanning the hammer). Young, dumb, and stupid, I was 21. They repaired it for free.

    The second was my KP-90 whose aluminum mag release wore down to a point where it would not retain the magazine. I sent it back to Ruger and again repairs were done free of charge. What can you say about a company like Ruger who stands behind their products. Patric, 58.

  • Richard Street

    My wife bought my Ruger single six as a gift for my return from Korea in 1964,Ive shoot more than 5000 rounds thru it,still have the box it came in ,also the same wife…Thanks for the tuneup on the lost RUGER..

  • Joe Patterson

    Just another reason to purchase a Ruger Quality fire Arms.

    The Most comfortable feeling side arm i have ever owned.

  • Rob Cleary

    This is a great story!! I have a friend who used a .22 MKII as a shark gun and dropped it in the ocean. A 15 year old kid snagged it almost two years later, turned it into the local police, and they tracked it down to the owner. He got the gun back, cleaned the heck out of it and is using it still. Its a testament to Rugers products. Better than a Timex. Takes a licken and keeps on ticken!!!

  • Sara Elbirn

    thats my grandmother (: I'm proud <3

  • Donald Conner

    As the Aussies would say "Good on ya, Ruger" I'm on my 2nd Super Blackhawk .44 Mag, having foolishly traded the 1st aome 30 years ago. Brownell's .429 range rod slid right into every chanber slick as a whislte. Quality is the hame of the game, and we're glad for you, Grandma.

  • jen kennedy walden

    This is a story about my mom, i am very happy for you mom, and thanks to johnny and joey you have that great smile that i have missed for a very long time. hope you have many years with your gun back on your hip.

  • JonSEAZ

    I will turn 70 this November. I bought my first Ruger in 1961, a used Mark I (then just a Ruger semi-auto .22). I took that Ruger to Okinawa with me when I completed training and was assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group in Okinawa. Later, I sold it to a retiring master sergeant who really wanted it. Among many other guns of various makes, I currently own at least 15 Rugers. I have owned and traded or sold at least three others, one of those trades being for another Ruger of a different caliber. I can say that I have found Ruger guns to be well designed, rugged, functional, reliable, and generally moderately priced l. While I have had little occasion to avail myself of Ruger's after-market service, what little I have needed they provided as expected, prompt, expedient, and technically accurate. In my opinion, Ruger is an American company which operates like we hope all American companies would operate, with the customer4 first in mind.

    Although I live in Prescott not so far from the Ruger factory, I have no connection of any kind with them or any financial interest in their operation. I just thought I would say something positive about a good company because we generally speak out only when we are dissatisfied.

  • Bob "Grizz&quot

    Great story! I have a pair of Ruger Single Six's that I purchased in the early 70's and love em! The .22 has stood me well in pistol competition, hunting grey squirrel and pinking. The .357 is my deer hunting side kick. Both look like new and some day a grand son will be packing them. Thank you Ruger!

  • http://www.obamasucks.tv John Brown

    What a great family and what a great mother, I am sure her boys know how lucky they are to have her. I dropped something before in my Maine woods and found it three seasons later by accident after I had given up the 1st time.

    One of my favorite guns is the Ruger Single Six, in stainless just like hers, only hers has better grips then mine now :-D

    One reason I like buying a Ruger is they are a solid decent company with good customer service (never needed it so far). They are one of the reasons I try to stay American made.

  • Jim March

    This isn't an isolated case. Their customer service is "for real". My daily-carry-without-fail piece is a Ruger.

    The one thing they're kinda "iffy" about is "FrankenRugers". "First rule of FrankenRugers is, we don't discuss FrankenRugers with Ruger." If your Ruger is made out of bits and pieces of like five or six models plus aftermarket bits and some machine work that you lovingly hand-assembled…yeah, you're kinda on your own :). Ruger is very "lawsuit adverse" and FrankenRugers drive them a little bit batty. But that's OK, FrankenRuger people can generally wrench on our own stuff which, in the case of anything Ruger makes, is exceptionally easy. Which is why there's so damn many FrankenRugers :).

    Mine is a 2005 New Vaquero in 357Mag, wearing a SuperBlackhawk hammer, spring kit, two-stage loading gate, custom grips, barrel and topstrap drilled and tapped for scope mounts, one-off sights, gas-ejection system where it kicks out empty shells as I shoot. Magazine feed is getting added early next month :). "Maurice" is NOT allowed to go home to Ruger to visit :).

  • Larry

    I like this story, GOOD job Ruger. I own 3 different types of Rugers and I plan to purchase more. I have this same type of Pistol, (Stainless Single Six new model).

  • Lee Hershey

    Good to hear good people still do good deeds for good folks; thank you Ruger for your upstanding effort for this lady and her family. Another such story: My brother lives in the South and, was hit hard by "Catrina" and water was over three feet in his home. His extensive gun collection was under water for some time and later he asked "Smith" to refurbish their products which they were reluctant to do and wanted tons of cash to do. Ruger on the other hand fixed all of their products like new and did it for free.Guess which company gets business from this family? Thanks again Ruger!!!

  • JTHunter

    Congratulations to Mrs. Kennedy on her hobby and her perseverance! I hope she is able to enjoy both for many years to come!

    As for Ruger's actions in this case: "Well done!!"

    I used to own one of those "round-bodied" .22LR autopistols back in the early 70's but was forced to sell it for college books. I now own and enjoy both a 10/22 and the .22LR/.22 Mag revolver. The revolver shoots so well that I was able to take a one-handed shot at a squirrel while balancing a double-barreled 12 ga. with my left hand. Got the squirrel in the neck at about 12 yards. Sweet!

  • ntrudr_800

    I didn't used to like Ruger much after reading about the old version of their Ranch Rifle & its inaccuracy. Ruger has improved the Ranch Rifle quite a bit these days–& with a thicker barrel like we all wanted too! I really admire their single action revolvers, especially the Vaquero with the Hammer Block feature. That is one beautiful pistol! You can tell how well a firearm is made when you take it apart and looks at it's hidden qualities. I was very close to buying that Vaquero when I held one of Ruger's Gunsite Scout Rifles. That's when I realized I was a Rifleman. One of these days I'm gonna get a Single Six or a Ruger Vaquero. Beautiful pistols & quite reliable. My mind has changed about Ruger–they're a quality company these days. Often their firearms are priced well to boot! :D Nice to here this comforting story

  • devlinfaust

    One of the things I dearly like about having a gun collection is the dependability. When you think about it, you may get seven or eight years out of a car, maybe 15 years out of a TV set, but well-made guns, like the Ruger, just go on and on and this excellent article underscores that nicely.

    Congrats to you, Ms. Kennedy, you didn't give up on your Ruger and it didn't give up on you!

  • JR

    This is a great story. I can't say enough good about Ruger and their products. This is one of the reasons why I own 5 Ruger guns and I'm looking to purchase a 6th very soon.

  • Tom Farley

    I bought an abused GP100 from an "expert" who decided to do a trigger job on it with a file. I called Ruger customer service who told me to send it in. They sent my hard case back to me, and in three weeks sent my GP100 b.ack to me with every part between the trigger and the hammer replaced.. It was also cleaned, repolished and packed in a new factory carton with all the stuff a new gun comes with. I had to check the serial number to believe it was the one I sent them. All this at no cost to me! Ruger does it right!

  • http://CFBFishingGear Craige Bottorff

    What a great story. I have the same Ruger Six 22 and it is a great gun. I understand why she wanted it back.

  • Pichit Chularerk

    I am Thais. I have my own Ruger Single-Six .22 too.And I am so proud in this firearm as same as you.

  • LTC Gary A. Kilgore,

    Bravo for Ruger and Mrs. Kennedy! I had a similar experience wherein my much loved Ruger New Bearcat had been left in the woods by an errant nephew. Again, it was found two years later having withstood the harshest of Pennsylvania winters and pounding summer sun. Packaged and sent to Ruger for restoration, I later received a letter from Ruger stating that the little beauty was beyond repair. They offered and I accepted a new New Bearcat in return. I have been a life-long fan of Ruger and have no problem recommending any Ruger firearm to friends, family, and relatives. Thank You Ruger.

  • Big Mike

    What a great American company! As a Connecticut native, I am proud that their offices are in Southport, CT. More importantly, they are the embodiment of integrity, trust, and customer service. May they sell a million guns this year! (I am confident that they will, and in so doing, they have pledged to make a major donation to the NRA.) I love all of my Ruger products, and I carry an LCP all the time when my SR9 is too big.

  • Mike Dixon

    For me the timing on this story is great. I got my first issue of Guns & Ammo magazine last week and also bought two used Rugers. A Ruger 10/22 Rifle which I am going to restore with a new stock and scope and a Ruger 22/45 pistol. It is nice to know that there are still companies like Ruger who stand behind what they build. I am working on getting a concealed carry permit and when I get it, I will be looking at all of the smaller Ruger 9mm guns.

  • Dale

    What a great story! Go Grandma! I have three Rugers, a 10/22, a Single-Six in stainless, with a .22 WMR cylinder, and a Target Model Mk.II. All are great fun guns and I am hoping to afford more. I may have to buy used, but that doesn't sound like a problem with Ruger quality. I'm anxious!

  • John Kennedy

    I still have a hard time believing how great this story turned out! I wish Dad could have been there.

  • Jim Kelly

    None of this is a surprise to me, having worked in a gunshop in my youth.
    Ruger is noted for making sure their customers are always satisfied……. That is why 4 of my 9 personal firearms are rugers.

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