A Tribute To My Sister Ruth, (1920-2012)
Rather early this morning, Wednesday, May 23, 2012, I received the sad news that my only remaining sibling, and the only other member of my natal family, had passed away, in Corsicana, Texas.
Ruth Lucile Holdeman Sewell would have reached 92 this year.
She was a vivid person, bright, active, involved. Professionally she was a teacher. She taught Business, Math, Spanish and ultimately became the Special Education teacher for Navarro County, Texas. She was an outstanding teacher, able to get 'inside' her students to stimulate their learning and activate their responses.
Ruth and Jay met at Baylor University and married shortly after graduation. It wasn't long before WWII had started and Jay went into military service. He served in Italy and North Africa (Morocco and Libya). She taught school while he was overseas, taking positions in Iraan, Texas and Portland, Oregon. When he returned, they first entered into a partnership with our dad and brother in the agr- business; later Jay went into the Lone Star Gas Co. Work with that company and others took them to Jackson, Mississippi, Midland, Texas, Dallas, Texas, until they settled in Blooming Grove, Texas, on a lovely farm. They have a daughter, Carroll, and a son, Roger. Carroll gave them three granddaughters, Vanessa, Georgia, Lyric Ruth.
Ruth continued her teaching and education throughout her lifetime; earned her Masters degree, worked toward her PhD until Jay's death and her heath cut the pursuit short of completion.
She even studied Spanish in Mexico, enrolled in university and living with local citizens in their home to gain proficiency and fluency in the language.
Living in Dallas in the 1960s, she was in charge of interior designs for Dallas' first multi-level urban apartment complex.
She was a brilliant student and a Mensa member, as well as an amateur actor. While at Baylor, she was a student of the great Paul Baker, who encouraged her in acting.
She later became a charter member of the Dallas Theater Center, a project inspired by Baker and housed in a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. She told me that when they decided to move to Blooming Grove, her only stipulation was that she be allowed to commute and to continue being a member and attending the performances at the Theater Center, to which Jay agreed.
She had many hobbies, among them, playing piano, painting, growing roses, prolific reading - and - writing.
A couple of her own original drafts of some of her poetry:
This is not an attempt at an obituary, which will be done by those more qualified, and will surely be more technically perfect.
This is my own personal tribute to Ruth's memory. She was 12 when I was born, so was among the people who attended and helped guide me from my earliest days on Earth, along with my beloved parents, Elcy and Albert Holdeman, in their 40s when I was born, and my other two siblings, Harriet, who was then 14, and Harold, then 10. It's no exaggeration to say I grew up among 'giants', - in height and in knowledge!
In the following family picture, Harriet is missing because she was away at college and Dad was away at the ranch.
The three elder of my siblings were a close-knit group. Here they are younger, in another house in Del Rio at 200 Garfield and then when they were all up in college. Ruth and Harriet went to Baylor, Harold to Texas A&M, which was then all-male and military.
Ruth with the blue-black hair and eyes our mother had; Harold was a redhead with light brown eyes - like Dad; Harriet was a brunette with auburn highlights and green eyes, a blend of each parent.
Harold was teased about his curly carrot-top hair. His buddies gave him the nickname: Hairless Joe, after a character in the Li'l Abner comic strip. At times, he was called "Hairless" or "Joe" all the rest of his life.
Mother had a saying:
If her eyes are blue, make sure yours are true.
If her eyes are brown, make sure yours don't fall down.
If her eyes are green, switch her with a switch that's keen.
If her eyes are black, give her room and lots of slack!
That last was Ruth, as well as Mother!!
They were both rather dramatic, too!
Ruth looking beautiful
There are so many more pictures and memorabilia, but time inhibits showing them all - or even finding them. I've spent today since learning of Ruth's passing searching my keepsake boxes and drawers to pay special tribute to my last sibling to part the Earth.
This group picture below was one of the last this many of us were together at one place and time.
Services will be at the Griffin-Roughton Funeral Home, 1530 N. 45th St., Corsicana, Texas 75110, (903) 874-4774.
Viewing: 5-7PM, May 24th; Funeral: 2:30PM May 25th at the Baptist Church in Blooming Grove.
For Ruth, my favorite song of faith & life, sung by Mario Lanza
UPDATE: Friday evening, May 25, 2012
I've just returned from one of the most amazing days! The visits en route were just heart-filling, with Ruth's daughter, Carroll, and her three daughters, Lyric (on the way down); and Vanessa and Georgia (on the return trip) .
But everything at the church and the gravesite was incredible, both the services and the interaction with family and Ruth's friends and associates. Her son, Roger and his wife, Cheryl, were involved in setting up the service. Ruth's and my nephew, Hal Holdeman, son of our brother, Harold, and his wife, Pam were there with their support. We had a lovely visit with them riding from church to gravesite together. Harold's widow, Frances, and their daughter, Harriet Ann, were there and we got to talk and renew our feelings for the first time in many years.
She was so loved and admired, but also she amazed everyone with whom she had contact, from the closest to the casual. Her son, Roger, granddaughters Georgia and Lyric and I spoke to the group about her, and everyone was in tears or laughter, remembering this incredible person and our personal remembrances. I wish I had a recording of it. The entire day was full of Ruth - and it couldn't be gloomy, though there were tears aplenty.
I saw some relatives I haven't seen for MANY years and some I see only occasionally. The spirit between us all was tangible. Somehow I feel sure we'll see each other much more often now.
Ruth must be smiling. I had trouble not expecting to see her alive and adding her special verve to the occasion! Certainly if being beloved and well remembered contributed, she would have been.
It has been so wonderful for me - the answer to many a prayer, in fact.
- The Cousins - Now and Then
Be sure to click here & proceed to pictures of Ruth's children and grandchildren, their cousins and others who were in attendance, along with joyous moments we all shared over a most blessed day.