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Kim Ruocco's life has been a testament to resilience and compassion. In her 60 years, she has faced more challenges than most, but her spirit remained unbroken.
Kim passed away in the hospital holding hands with her two boys, the loves of her life. After a 37 yearlong battle living with Scleroderma, she fought through every ailment never wanting to be defined by the disease. In 2020, after having Covid-19, her lungs took a turn for the worse. Her family will be eternally grateful to her team of doctors and nurses at Tufts hospital including Doctor Harrison Farber, who led the charge for her to keep the faith, the ICU doctors and nurses, and the resident physician Calvin Ludwig who made her last days incredibly special.
Kim was born in Winchester, Massachusetts in 1963 to Noretta and William Dillinger. She grew up in Reading, Massachusetts with more friends than you could count. Everyone loved to be with Kim. She was always beautiful, wild, and fun. She had a very close family and could usually be seen with her two sisters tagging along behind her.
She held a BA in Human Services and Psychology from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s degree in clinical social work from Boston University. Kim loved these college years. She loved to learn and could be serious about studying, but yet she was still THE life of the party and the free-spirited wild friend of everyone.
In 1990, she married John Ruocco, also a graduate from UMass Amherst, who had just joined the United States Marine Corps. They traveled the world and moved often making new lifelong friends everywhere they lived. Together they had two children: Joey and Billy. The boys were the pride of their lives. As a couple, they succeeded in staying connected to friends and family no matter where they lived.
In her 40s, Kim endured the heart-wrenching loss of her husband, a brave veteran, and her best friend. She relocated back to Massachusetts and spent the last 20 years surrounded by her mother, two sisters, the Ruocco family, and all her nieces and nephews. She had a love for dogs, caring for several along with her children. Kim was always surrounded by love.
Kim persevered as a single mother, raising Joey and Billy while dedicating herself to becoming a global leader in suicide prevention and postvention for TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors). She committed her life to helping others, effecting change in legislation, and saving lives. Kim’s dedication to suicide prevention and postvention has been nothing short of remarkable. She developed a groundbreaking three-phase postvention model, providing a path to stability, a journey toward healing, and opportunities for post-traumatic growth. Kim offered invaluable insights and expertise to numerous civilian and military organizations involved in suicide prevention. As an international speaker, she drew from her education, personal experiences, and the insights of thousands of service members and bereaved military families to promote a deeper understanding of suicide. Kim has testified before both Senate and House Committees on Veterans Affairs and played key roles in various committees and advisory groups focused on suicide prevention.
Kim was a beautiful artist and found joy in quietly painting in her free time. She loved the water and rarely missed an opportunity to be on a boat or have her toes in the sand. She loved the little things like heart shaped rocks, sunsets, and warm bread. If she had a choice, she would choose dessert before dinner. Her family will rest in peace knowing her last meal was chocolate pudding.
Mostly, Kim was a master at “reframing” a situation to make it better.
Kim was preceded in death by her husband, Marine Corps Major John Ruocco, and her father William Dillinger. She is survived by her sons, Joseph Ruocco and his fiancée Kate McLean of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and William Ruocco of Newburyport, Massachusetts, her mother, Noretta Luettinger of Newburyport, Massachusetts, her sister Susan Thrumston of Exeter, New Hampshire, and her sister Marietta and husband Alan DeAngelo of Byfield, Massachusetts, along with all of her nieces, nephews, and friends across the world.
Family and friends may call from 4:00 to 8:00 PM on Friday January 26, 2024 at the Twomey, LeBlanc, & Conte Funeral Home 193 High St. Newburyport, MA 01950. Her Celebration of Life will be held Saturday January 27, 2024 at the Danversport Yacht Club from11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Burial will be private at a later date.
A Memorial fund has been created for outstanding medical bills for Kim Ruocco. All remaining funds will be distributed to causes close to Kim’s heart. Please mail checks to: William Ruocco, 336 Main Street, Amesbury, MA 01913, or through her Go Fund Me page.
For directions or to offer online condolences please visit www.tlcfuneralhome.com