By DAVID GREEN
Never stop learning.
Never stop helping others.
Never stop making music.
And while you’re at it, keep on smiling and laughing, too.
For anyone aiming to follow in the footsteps of Ruth Hutchison, Fayette’s 2008 Citizen of the Year, now you have the formula.
“I’m enrolled at the University of Toledo in the 60 Plus plan,” said the soon-to-be 80-year-old.
She’s taken several classes, but it’s not going as planned. Some of the courses she wanted were dropped before school started. Others conflicted with her work schedule.
“I’ll probably be a hundred by the time I graduate,” Ruth said.
The 60 Plus program allows older students to enroll tuition-free and audit credit classes on a space-available basis.
“As a girl I always wanted to be a band director,” she said. “I want to get into the college marching band.”
Ruth keeps physically fit and she expects she could meet the challenge.
She started working in the Evergreen school system in 1977 as a study hall monitor. After five years, she switched to Fayette. She has 31 years of experience as a study monitor, 26 as a transportation monitor, 26 with student detention, three as the library adult assistant, two as senior play director and one as special education teacher aide. She’s also served as special assistant to the superintendent’s office and cafeteria monitor to fifth and sixth grade students.
“I like to keep busy,” she says.
Ruth was born in Detroit, but her family moved to Swanton when she was young, and then eventually to Wauseon where she attended school.
After high school she attended cosmetology school and married Richard “Dick” Hutchison, a carpenter. After working in Wauseon for a few years, she opened the Kurl-E-Que hair salon on Main Street in Fayette.
Ruth started attending the Fayette Christian Church and she figures she’s been involved in most every position there, from junior choir director to Sunday School teacher.
Dick grew up on a farm, and in 1960, the Hutchisons moved to the country.
“Oh, did I learn a lot,” Ruth said about farm life.
She got a good taste of helping others when a fellow salon worker, Thelma Lucas, was involved with the Y Teens group at the high school.
Thelma asked if she would be willing to give perms to some girls who couldn’t afford it.
Ruth’s good deeds pop into a conversation now and then, but they don’t flow easily.
“My mother always told me not to toot my own horn,” she said.
When she worked at local grocery stores in Fayette, occasionally a young person with financial difficulties would ask to make a purchase on credit. Ruth approved it—and she also covered the cost.
She came from a musical family and the love of performing has stuck with her all her life.
She remembers serving as the fifth and sixth grade music teacher when no classes were available at the school. She bought the music and students gathered at the community room of the library. She remained active in Band Boosters group long after her own children graduated.
Her interest in music was rekindled five years ago when she joined the Delta Community Band, starting off with a second-hand saxophone.
It took a while to really get into the swing of things, but now she hates to miss an outing.
“I’ll go if it’s killing me,” Ruth said. “I love it that much.”
Now Fayette has its own community band and Ruth is still hearing comments about her memorable role last December in “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”
To many Fayette residents, that brought to mind The Pretenders, a group of eight women who created comedy routines and raised nearly $40,000 over the years to give to local groups such as Scouts and the Opera House.
This is actually the second time Ruth has been honored because The Pretenders were named Citizens of the Year in 1980.
Ruth looks forward to her first-ever trip to New York City this summer—a visit that will include a behind-the-scenes visit to a theatre.
She also has that second skydiving episode to think about. Her first one came just shy of her 74th birthday, when one of her grandchildren turned 18. That granddaughter’s younger sister wants the same thing. Ruth will be 84 years old then, but she’ll take the dive once more.
But she’s just talking about herself again and she’d rather change the subject.
“I’m tooting my own horn,” she said. “Sorry, mom.”