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Remembering Ruth DeVries

By Jayme Cooper, Fellowship Community Co-worker

Ruth was born in 1928, in Franklin Indiana—a small town surrounded by farms. Her sister Martha was born the same year. They were the third and fourth of four siblings: the two of them and an older brother and sister. Her father taught Education and Psychology at Franklin College. Her mother, along with another woman, founded the Girl Scouts and Girls Club in town. Ruth loved playing volleyball and basketball. Basketball was a big thing in Indiana. Everything closed on Friday night because everyone was at the ballgame. Their little town of 5000 had a gym that seated 2500 people and it was full every Friday night! During tournament time in March, she could see 8-10 games in a weekend…and loved it!


Church and family were important parts of Ruth’s life. Her mother was a Sunday School superintendent, her father was a deacon and she and her two sisters sang in the choir. The three of them often sang at home while doing the dishes. Ruth sang melody, Martha sang alto, and Mary Alice sang the lowest part. They had a wonderful time singing together then, and also as adults. Their dogs sometimes sang along with them!


Ruth’s family often visited relatives who lived 80 miles away. Many summers, Ruth and her sisters would visit for a week. Her cousins would come to their house, too. She had many fond memories of these visits.


Ruth’s mother taught her to cook, sew and quilt. When Ruth was around 10, she was getting ready for the 4-H fair. Her project was to bake a plain cake. When she finished, she realized she left out the vanilla. Her mother asked if she wanted to do it over, but she took it the way it was. After the judging, she was surprised to see not only a blue ribbon, but a purple championship ribbon, too! Her love for baking continued throughout her life. Ruth’s family had a large garden. It was one way to have enough food for the family during the Depression. In the summer, the kids were expected to help their mother can the vegetables that her dad picked before he went to summer school in the morning. In the afternoon, she and her siblings were free to go to the pool or Girl's Club. Ruth seriously disliked doing that chore every morning. She didn’t particularly care about doing any of it. But, after she was married and had children, she asked her kids to do the same thing!


Ruth graduated from Franklin College in 1950 with a BA in Chemistry and was the envy of her class, since she was going off to New York to work for Lederle (now Pfizer). When Ruth got to New York, she was surprised at the run-on towns and the number of people who were born in another country, or whose parents had been. It was very different from rural Indiana where families had been there for generations.


As it turned out, Ruth met her first husband, got married and quit work all in 3 years. She had one son, four daughters, and one granddaughter. Somehow, she survived five teenagers! During the summers, her family enjoyed camping trips all over the country. Some of their favorite spots were Putnam Pond in the Adirondacks, Bass River State Forest near Atlantic City and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.


When her youngest child was 5, Ruth went back to work, first at Walden Books, then at RCC as a Chem Tech and lab teacher, and finally earned her RN at age 55. She worked at Helen Hayes Hospital for a short while and then returned to RCC and taught skills to the nursing students. She liked that much better than hospital nursing.


For many years, Ruth was a member of the Nauraushaun Presbyterian Church where she was a Deacon, a choir member and was active in worship, arts, mission and social action projects. She even went to Nicaragua to build latrines! Ruth felt she received far more than she gave.


When Ruth’s husband needed full time care, a neighbor suggested the Fellowship. However, at that time, the Fellowship did not accept sick members, so she had to make other arrangements. He died in 1985 at age 77. All of Ruth's siblings have died - her two sisters of Alzheimer's disease and her brother of old age. Through all of this, Ruth found joy in doing what she loved: sewing and quilting, working in her stained-glass shop. Many years ago, Ruth came to the Fellowship as a volunteer and then came to live here as a member in 2005. Ruth said she experienced dark and painful times in her life, times that could be called "the dark night of the soul". But, she was finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.


What may have been the brightest light in Ruth’s life was Evan—a light that took 50 years and significant life changes to finally see. Ruth and Evan met at church where Ruth worked closely on a variety of projects with Evan’s wife, Barbara. Their children grew up together, and their families spent a lot of time together at church parties and holidays. When Barbara passed away in 2017, Evan spent more time with Ruth… and we all know how that went.


Evan moved to the Fellowship in March of 2018, and Ruth and Evan got married that June at the church where they met so many years before. In the time they were together, they took six trips to Europe, went twice to Bermuda and Florida, and visited Indiana.


Ruth and Evan moved to Hilltop House in 2020 for a variety of reasons—possibly the number one reason being that Ruth didn’t want to cook anymore. The three years they spent in Hilltop House together was a gift to everyone who lives and works there. We all had the good fortune of witnessing Ruth and Evan’s true love for and devotion to one another.


Ruth passed away peacefully on July 20, 2023, and will be greatly missed by Evan and everyone at Hilltop House and the Fellowship Community.

 

To make a gift to the Fellowship Community in honor of Ruth DeVries please visit

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