I met Ms. Ruth many years ago when she would come to Pittsfield on visits to our Church (2nd Congregational) and to see her family. My first memorable time was at the Memorial Service for her siblings who were lost in a car accident. I felt awful for the family members left behind and for her. They were a very close knit family and the pain of losing 3 siblings at once must have been unbearable. I believe the support and love she got from the church family and the greater community gave her strength and courage to carry on…not to mention her faith and love of God.
As the years went by, I learned more about her life and accomplishments. A scholar, Oral Historian, and Storyteller who’s won numerous awards for her professional achievements. She also co-founded the Black Storyteller’s movement and was a staunch advocate for women’s studies. She was a legend… I was proud to be in her company and privileged too!
When she gifted her great-great grandfather’s homestead to the Samuel Harrison Society, that spoke volumes to me of her faith, vision, and hope for our community. But it was her quiet strength and dignity, her grace and wisdom that made her phenomenal to me… Rest in peace… Auntie Ruth!