Carrie Rengers

Wichita claims Phil Ruffin Sr., but Texas gets the credit

The New York Times correctly identified Phil Ruffin Sr. as one of the president’s closest friends, but the publication incorrectly called Ruffin a Texas billionaire. He does have billions, but he identifies as being from Wichita.
The New York Times correctly identified Phil Ruffin Sr. as one of the president’s closest friends, but the publication incorrectly called Ruffin a Texas billionaire. He does have billions, but he identifies as being from Wichita. Courtesy photo

In a weekend New York Times story headlined “Trump Reaches Beyond West Wing for Counsel,” Phil Ruffin Sr. gets credit as a presidential adviser, but Wichita is left out.

The article refers to Ruffin as a Texas billionaire.

“I was born in Texas, but that’s crazy,” Ruffin says.

He says the publication asked where he was born but should have asked where he spent most of his life.

Ruffin’s family moved here when he was 5, and the 82-year-old spent almost all of his life here until more recent years when he moved to Las Vegas where he owns Treasure Island.

He still returns to Wichita every few weeks.

The Times says Trump is closer to Ruffin than any of his 20-something other business partners.

“Mr. Ruffin has a knack for showing up when Mr. Trump needs him most and remains a die-hard defender,” the story said.

Ruffin continues to do business in Wichita as well. In addition to buying the Hyatt Regency Wichita, Ruffin says he’s keeping the Hyatt franchise.

“We take over June 1,” he says. “We signed a 20-year agreement with Hyatt. Very good company. Very good brand. There’s no reason to change that.”

Ruffin’s son Chris will manage the hotel.

“He’s been wanting a hotel,” Ruffin says. “I’m going to give him one.”

He says his son has some ideas for improvements, including the addition of a patio overlooking the river for the Harvest Kitchen and Bar restaurant.

“The food there is excellent,” Ruffin says. “The chef is world class, but it’s kind of a secret.”

He says his son will change that, too.

“We don’t want to do anything until we take over, of course,” Ruffin says.

“It’s going to be real nice.”

Phil Ruffin received a lifetime achievement award from the Certified Commercial Investment Member institute on Dec. 15, 2016, for his contribution to the face of the real estate business. (Video by Brian Hayes/Wichita Eagle correspondent)

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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