Ruby Cavanaugh, 1922 – 2015 – Namesake of the Ruby’s Diner Franchise Leaves Family and Legendary Diner at 93


Our beloved Ruby Cavanaugh, the heart, inspiration and namesake behind Ruby’s Diner, passed away Sunday, December 27th at the age of 93. Ruby Cavanaugh died peacefully surrounded by her family.

Vivacious and eternally spunky, Ruby Michael was born July 29, 1922 in Jefferson City, Mo to Edwin and Victoria Michael.  In 1936 Ruby and her family moved to California. Ruby attended Fremont High School in Los Angeles where she made life-long friends. At the age of 18 she met her late husband Doug Cavanaugh Sr., a U.S. Navy veteran.  It was love at first site for the pair who shared a love of swing music and dancing. The two married in 1944 and embraced their new life together. They would eventually pass their passion for music and simplicity of this era on to their children Doug Jr. and Jane. Eventually the family moved to Tustin where Ruby has lived for more than 47 years.

Ruby was known for her quick smile, warm personality and inner strength. Her friends could count on her for warm support during their own trials and tribulations, and more than anything she put family first. Ruby and Doug Sr. were married for nearly 40 years when he passed away in 1983.

Inspiring an Iconic Brand

After successfully running a restaurant on the east coast, Ruby’s son Doug returned to Orange County where he was inspired to open his own restaurant, themed after his mother’s favorite era. In fact, he even named the restaurant after her. On Dec. 7 1982, Ruby’s Diner opened its doors on Balboa Island.  The red and white interior, 1940’s Americana memorabilia and even photos of Ruby complete the theme and showcase her influence with high quality food and warm, friendly service.

Ruby enjoyed being part of the company’s growth serving as a greeter at openings, sweetly meeting fans and admirers. This past July 29, on her 93rd birthday, Ruby made a surprise appearance at the Corona del Mar restaurant and was greeted by rousing cheers of fans who were enjoying a burger meal special in honor of her special day.

Ruby Cavanaugh is survived by her daughter Jane and son Doug Jr, Sister Dorothy, her grandchildren Doug 3rd, Shawn and Kate and countless nieces and nephews.

There will be a memorial service for Ruby at 2pm on Jan. 9 at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 185 S. Center Ave., Orange, Calif.

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