Ruth was born in January 1949 in a place called Blackheath, part of the Black Country in the West Midlands. When her mum died in 1953, Ruth and her brother Philip went to live with their auntie - a talented seamstress. It was here Ruth learnt many of her practical skills.
She was part of a working family that valued the arts and were talented poets, authors and artists. It was obvious that when Ruth went into secondary education that art should be one of her prime focuses. She gained an A-level in art a year early before moving to take a foundation course in the arts at Bournville College of Art in Birmingham. Here she gained a wide range of skills and became particularly interested in fashion and textile design. It was the 60s and natural that she should move to do a degree course in fashion and textiles at college. Unfortunately, this proved not for her and she left the college before her degree was complete. She took a year out working with a local photographer before moving to a teacher training course at Cartrefle College, Wrexham. During that time she married Peter and they settled in North Wales before moving South in 2017.
Son, Tom, and daughter, Sally, completed the family in 1978 and 1980.
Through most of their married life she and Peter shared their lives with dogs Sam, Minnie, Dancer (she did!) and Sammy. Ruth, a modest person, could not resist a challenge and she used her skills in many areas. She drew portraits of dogs and horses, re-upholstered chairs, painted landscapes, and equipped all of the extended family with pinafores. She designed batiks for a West Indian company, and painted the sign for a West Midlands pub. She made beautiful Christmas cards every year for the almost 50 years she was married to Peter and during the pandemic she extended this skill to making beautiful birthday cards too.
She lived a truly creative life until her death in April 2021.
Part of the eulogy written and delivered at Ruth’s funeral service her daughter, Sally, is reproduced below;
“In the short time since she passed, we have been moved and humbled by the many tributes that have been made to her. And in truth, I’m not sure she would have believed that she had touched so many lives in such significant ways, but, as we who loved her know, she did.”
“There are a few stories that immediately spring to mind when I think about Mom; how she was thrown out of the Louvre in Paris for not wearing shoes, or how she was asked to leave the school disco for ignoring the dress code and wearing hipsters, or how when she would start giggling, sometimes she would giggle so much that she would not be able to stop. Mostly I think about how when I was near her, I would feel calm and loved and safe in her presence.”
“…her life was not without difficulties, she lost her own mom when she was 4 years old, and she has sometimes seen sadness and illness, but although these things shaped her life, they did not define her.”
“She was kind, she was gentle, and she was creative. These are the words that I have heard over and over in the last few weeks. And she was definitely all of those things. Her creativity was a gift, a true talent, though I’m not sure she realised how truly talented she really was. She could paint, draw, sew, knit, she played the piano and the guitar, again, she would say, both, not very well. She could turn her hand to all sorts of things. She would have a go, and that has always been an inspiration for me. She had a designer’s mind; I think she enjoyed solving problems.”
“She was patient, she always encouraged us to express ourselves. I remember rolling out sheets of paper in the garden at Treetops and being allowed to run up and down with paint on our feet and hands. And wallpapering my bedroom in layers and layers of newspaper cuttings (although she may have regretted that when she later had to strip the wall!)”
“She was brave. She was brave in adversity, but also in life. She took on all sorts of adventures, big and small. She loved to explore. Her first flight involved a car to Birmingham, a coach to Heathrow, before flying to Antigua, and then boarding a banana plane to St Kitts, where she drove through the jungle, with two toddlers and a nervous passenger. “
“And we all know she was determined. More recently she has said, “While I can, I will” and she did. Despite cancer, and arthritis and restrictions, and prescriptions and global pandemics. She spent time in the garden, making things grow, she foraged for berries to make jam, she took up her paint brushes again. She was still making plans. Just a few weeks ago we were thinking about how we could travel abroad next year for a family holiday; she was already thinking about the next birthday card she would make, or how she would decorate the posh shed. She was full of ideas and full of life.”
“And that’s why I know that if there had been a way for her to stay with us, she would have done; while she could, she did. She left us on a beautiful day. Her passing was kind and gentle like she was.