McConnor's Corner
Remembering Aunt Ruth
By Sean McConnor
Feb 24, 2008 - 12:27:04 PM

WASHINGTON D.C. — Sometimes, columnists get sentimental. It is not difficult to do when you know someone who has had a remarkable life and has been recognized for her achievements by others. Such is the case of my Aunt Ruth who passed away this week, 94 years young, and what a story to be told that many people in the entertainment and political community might appreciate.

Ruth was the oldest child of an Irish immigrant's son and an Englishwoman's daughter. She was born in Chicago where her dad was a worker for a telephone company. As a young girl, even then, she had the propensity to want to help others. She would go down to what was referred to as "the old folks home" and talk to the elderly who had grown up in 19th Century Illinois. The stories they told her were breathtaking when I think about it. Some of these pioneers remembered seeing Abraham Lincoln. Imagine.

As Ruth became older, she worked in a "dime store". The youth of today might know it as a smaller version of Target or Wal-Mart. She wanted to become a nurse, but she could never manage the funds. Again, her caring nature is shown.

Finally, Ruth gravitated to the West Coast, after the Depression years of the 1930s, and settled in California. When the war came, her soldier-husband was stationed at one of the "relocation camps" in Arizona for Japanese-Americans who were removed from the Coast by the order of President Roosevelt.

After the war, Ruth settled in West Los Angeles and worked in the commissary at MGM in Culver City. Here, she had the opportunity to serve and see some of the top movie entertainers of the day such as Clark Gable, Judy Garland, and others. For most of them, she had high praise as being really nice people, even though one prominent actor tried to skip out once without paying his check.

Ruth had a little girl, Suzanne, who had serious problems with her brain. She was a beautiful little girl. When nothing could be done, she went to see the Rev. Oral Roberts in Oklahoma who was doing religious revivals with "faith healing." Rev. Roberts looked at Suzanne and told Ruth to go in peace. Suzanne died in her mother's arms.

Fast forward. In her very later years, Ruth settled in a small city in Arizona. She lived in a mobile park in the area that looked like it was a landscape on the moon. She was content with her life, but felt the calling to help people. So, being a senior, she gathered the religious, political, and community organizers in Casa Grande, Arizona, to form a community Thanksgiving Day Dinner for the poor and alone in the city. The community responded and it became an annual event with food galore for all. Eventually, it was named in her honor.

Her good deeds did not go unnoticed. The Arizona State Senate recognized her. The newspapers reported on her work and then the ultimate thing happened. News of her goodness traveled to the White House in Washington. One Saturday afternoon while sitting in my mother's dining room, I heard the President of the U.S. praise Aunt Ruth for her volunteer efforts in his weekly radio address. President Reagan tried to reach her later personally, but she was out.

Such is the stuff that the heroes, or in this case, heroines are made of! Such is the material that God uses to make angels!

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