Eagle eye: Moral crusader Ruzicka wields 'phone tree'

Published: Sunday, Nov. 7 2004 12:00 a.m. MST

In Utah, she began to wade deeper and deeper into issues, namely pro-life bills and education. Soon, even legislators were seeking her input. In 1991, two years after moving to Utah, she was made president of Eagle Forum.

It created a schedule that would wear out a marathoner. Ruzicka oversaw a large household, taught a half-dozen children and she led a large political organization.

"I found out I could live without a lot of sleep," she says.

Her routine: Up at 6, clean the house, organize the day, wake the kids, get them ready for school, teach school, perform her Eagle Forum duties, go to bed sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. When the Legislature was in session, she got up at 5 a.m. to get her kids fed and dressed, then she loaded them in the car and made the 45-minute drive to the Legislature, sometimes braving the Point of the Mountain in snowstorms.

There she would sit in the balcony of the Legislature, surrounded by her half-dozen kids, who were doing their homework.

"Sometimes I would find myself thinking as I drove, what am I doing," she says. "I would be crying. I made a commitment to do these things and had to keep my commitment. There are people all over the country who do it."

For the most part, she says her children were remarkably well-behaved, although there were days when she would have to take them out on the Capitol lawn to let them run. They got to know more about the workings of politics than any field trip would have shown them.

"They were so good that legislators would compliment them about it all the time," says Ruzicka.

Kristyn, the Ruzickas' ninth child, recalls, "We sat up there and did school work. My mom talked about it a lot with us, and we knew what was going on."

Like many of her siblings, Kristyn has been active in politics and has performed work for the Eagle Forum. At three of the past four national conventions, two or three of the Ruzicka children served as delegates, along with their parents.

Political correctness

Her children grown now, Ruzicka presses on with her maniacal schedule. She routinely sleeps only a few hours each night. When the Legislature is in session, she sleeps only a couple of hours after staying up to read bills and trying to understand the full ramifications of each.

"Gayle is very committed," says Don. "It takes a supportive family, too. It's not something everyone can do."

"I used to stay home and not worry about what the rest of world was doing," says Ruzicka. "Just teach your kids correct principles. But pretty soon, the dragons started coming through the front door — what was taught in school, Internet pornography, abortion, homosexuality. Women have had to roll up their sleeves and protect the home. . . . John Adams said our Constitution was made for a moral people. If we want to maintain our liberty in a moral world, we better work hard because we're going to lose it rapidly."

Christensen, for one, applauds Ruzicka's courage. "Because of political correctness, the unpardonable now is intolerance. In Berkeley, Calif., they're trying to decriminalize prostitution because prostitutes say their rights are being infringed upon. The Founding Fathers believed people would be tempted, but that if the majority were allowed to rule, the country would choose morally and wisely.

"But now, with political correctness, the minority rules. Judges and special-interest groups overrule democracy. The built-in protection of the moral majority has been overruled. This is what makes Gayle tick. She feels strongly about it. She's willing to get up and do something about it."

Ruzicka, who carries a miniature set of scriptures in her purse wherever she goes and reads them when there is an idle moment, is tough but soft-spoken, and she does her homework. Peterson notes, "I don't agree with most of her opinions, but I have to tell you, I enjoyed interacting with her at the Legislature. Personally, I like her."

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