Ruth C. Ruddell
At a glance:
Born: July 23, 1893 in Lovelock, Nevada
Other role identities : First to be named “Woman of the West” by the Reclamation Era in 1952; President of Board of Directors of the Pershing County Water Conservation District for 14 years; graduate of Heald Business College; member of the Pershing County Hospital Board; active Democrat and member of Electoral College from Nevada; charter member and past Noble Grand of Garden City Rebekah Lodge No. 17; member of Business and Professional Women, Pershing County Homemakers, Pershing County Taxpayers Association, and the Pershing County Farm Bureau; granddaughter of George Lovelock for whom the town of Lovelock is named.
Ruth Clair Ruddell was the fourth and last child to be born to W.C. Ruddell and Jennie C. Lovelock Ruddell. She was born on the Ruddell Ranch in Lovelock on July 23, 1893 . The 500-acre Ruddell Ranch, closely adjoining the town of Lovelock , was where Ruth spent her youth and adult years and enjoyed ranching as her way of life. Even as a toddler she spent hours on end with her father and the cow hands working in the fields, cutting the alfalfa, and working with the stock. For years she helped her father run the ranch, and upon his death in 1937, she took over the responsibility and family tradition.
The Lovelock and Ruddell families employed members of the Paiute Tribe living in Lovelock on a regular basis, a practice that continued throughout Ruth's life.
Miss Ruddell attended Lovelock schools and graduated from the Humboldt County High School in Lovelock (Lovelock was still a part of Humboldt County ). One of her close friends was Edna Purviance prior to Edna's going into show business with Charlie Chaplin.
The desire to make a difference and make things better in the community named after her grandfather, George Lovelock, prompted Miss Ruddell to become active in conservation, politics, service organizations, and society. Her knowledge and work in conservation and reclamation led her to serve three terms as vice president and 14 years as president of the Pershing County Water Conservation District. It was this dedication that brought her the honor of being named in July, 1952, the first “Woman of the West”, “The Lady President – Ruth Ruddell”, a series of articles on present day pioneer Women of the West put out by The Reclamation Era magazine.
Ruth was a devout Democrat and very active in that political party. She was a presidential elector from Nevada in 1940 during the Roosevelt Administration. This author knows from personal experience that even after Ruth was confined to her bed with arthritis, she acted as the voice for the farmers and small towns in general as political leaders such as Senator Pat McCarren, Senator Alan Bible, and Governor Grant Sawyer, to name just a few, would “hold court” by her bedside to gain her thoughts and input on various political state matters. They stated that they valued her opinion.
She was an active member of many service organizations such as Business and Professional Women, Pershing County Homemakers, Pershing County Taxpayers Association, the Pershing County Farm Bureau, and many other activities. She was a charter member in the Rebekahs in Lovelock, and served as a board member on the Pershing County Hospital Board.
In addition to her service work, Ruth was known as a gracious hostess at her parties. Summer ice cream events at the Ruddell Ranch, tea and card get-togethers, and the one this author remembers most vividly, the annual Fireman's Picnic, were hosted with great attention paid to all details.
She could speak the rough language of any cowboy, yet charm the most proper with her manners, language, and etiquette. She always told me that, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar."
Ruth passed away at the age of 77 on September 9, 1970 on the Ruddell Ranch where she was born and spent her life.
Researched and written by Elaine Pommerening, great niece of Ruth Ruddell. October 2006.
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