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Daughter of Colonel Sanders dies at age 91

Mildred Sanders Ruggles
Mildred Sanders Ruggles

A daughter of Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, died Tuesday after a yearlong battle with pancreatic cancer, her family said. Mildred Sanders Ruggles was 91.

Mrs. Ruggles was the wife of the late John F. Ruggles Jr., founder of the Ruggles Sign Company based in Versailles.

Mrs. Ruggles' granddaughter, Elizabeth Ruggles Pitchford, said her grandmother was active in both her father's and her husband's businesses, instrumental in starting Ruggles Sign Company and responsible for training KFC franchisees and promoting the restaurant.

In the late 1950s, Mrs. Ruggles traveled around the United States and Canada with Colonel Sanders teaching KFC franchisees the proper way to cook chicken "the Colonel's way," her family said.

"Grandpa Sanders was emphatic about making sure the owners knew how to cook the chicken, because the owners stuck around and employees changed," Pitchford said.

Mrs. Ruggles embodied Southern hospitality, her family said. She enjoyed meeting people, hosting and attending social gatherings and catching up with friends.

"She was always life of the party," said Marlona Ice, Mrs. Ruggles' daughter.

Mrs. Ruggles was born Aug. 15, 1919, in Jeffersonville, Ind., the youngest of three children. She attended Saint Camillus Academy in Corbin.

She met her husband, John F. Ruggles Jr., at the first inauguration of Governor A.B. "Happy" Chandler, and the two married on her 18th birthday in 1937. In the 1940s they moved to Lexington, where they resided until their deaths. Mrs. Ruggles was a longtime member of Central Christian Church in Lexington.

Mrs. Ruggles is survived by her daughter, Marlona Ruggles Ice, of Bardstown, and her son, John F. Ruggles III of Davie, Fla. She has five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Visitation for Mrs. Ruggles will be Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. at Central Christian Church, 205 East Short Street, followed by a memorial service. Her family will hold a private burial later in the day.

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