Anthony “Tony” Ruggiero

Anthony “Tony” Ruggiero died at his workplace in Livermore, California, on March 1. He was 62.

He was born in Cleveland, Ohio along with his younger brother Michael Ruggiero and older sister Cindy Riffici to parents Anthony Ruggiero Sr. and Adeline Ruggiero. On the first day of spring 1984, he married Cindi Kokenge of Sioux Falls, South Dakota in Eugene, Oregon while in graduate school earning his doctorate degree in physical chemistry. The Ruggierosi subsequently moved to Chicago, Illinois where he continued his post-doctoral studies at the University of Chicago. His twin sons, Joshua and Vincent Ruggiero, were born in Chicago.

Ruggiero earned his bacherlor’s degree at the University of Arizona in Tucson and went on to earn a Ph.D in physical chemistry at the University of Oregon working with Bruce Hudson. His graduate work pioneered the use of short pulse lasers in time resolved spectroscopy and its application to understanding complex systems. He was known for the hours he spent in the lab pushing his laser system to its limits and for his attachment to his white German Shepard.

In 1990, Ruggiero began his employment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) where he performed research and development in support of projects for the Department of Energy. He was involved in or responsible for the development of many novel technology solutions involving the use of laser technologies, photonics and opto-electronics. He was an inventor and co-inventor on several patents within those fields and authored or co-authored many articles and papers for SPIE -- the International Society for Optical Engineering. Through his exceptional technical knowledge, vision and leadership, he built and inspired a dedicated team of engineers and technicians to develop unique technical solutions for special projects important to U.S. national security.

Ruggiero led a major, record-setting LLNL development effort in ultra-high bandwidth laser communications that demonstrated long distance, open air, secure data transmission between multiple fixed and airborne points. The resulting technology has important implications in a number of defense and civilian applications.

In March 2009, Ruggiero launched a new start-up company, Sierra Photonics Inc., to provide novel communication system technologies. Over the next 5 1/2 years as the CTO, president and eventually, CEO of the company, his vision and leadership resulted in delivering multiple systems to meet customer needs and the execution of several very successful technology demonstrations.

In the latter half of 2014, Google, Inc. had become interested in Sierra Photonics and its unique technologies, which ultimately resulted in Ruggiero leading the company through a successful acquisition by Google. At Google, he led his team to work on several interesting initiatives involving high capacity, low-latency optical networks. Ruggiero was known for his incredible technical expertise and ability to synthesize knowledge from various fields to develop innovative solutions to complex problems that are far ahead of their time. At the time of his passing, he held the position of technical program manager at Google, leading a team to develop ground-breaking communication technologies capable of being rapidly deployed into areas impacted by disasters such as hurricane, earthquakes, tornadoes or wildfires. Much of this work is now nearing realization and his team plans to continue his work and realize his latest dream.

Throughout his life, Ruggiero passionately pursued his goals and was known for his work-ethic and long hours at the office or working from home. When not working, he enjoyed spending time with his sons and wife -- whether it was simply relaxing and watching television or eating at his favorite Thai restaurant. He was an outdoor enthusiast and avid hiker who enjoyed traveling around the country visiting national parks with his family. He was known for his love of German Shepherds and could be found every Saturday morning taking his dog, Sophie, for a long walk in the hills surrounding Livermore. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and co-workers.

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Cindi; children, Joshua and Vincent; mother, Adeline Ruggiero of Cleveland, Ohio; brother, Michael Ruggiero of Cleveland, Ohio; sister, Cindy (Buddy) Rifici; nephews, Matt and Tony; and a large and loving extended family in South Dakota.

A memorial service and celebration of life was recently held at Graham Hitch Mortuary in Pleasanton.