It is impossible to be in a bad mood after spending time with Ruthie P., who is a resident in the Highlands. Her good humor and zest for life simply is contagious. Ruthie can be seen at every Happy Hour in the Bistro of the Highlands, singing along with the musicians, swaying to the music, and simply enjoying her time with her neighbors.
Ruthie was born in Puerto Rico and is quick to say that she has always known how lucky she is to be an American born citizen. She grew up in Puerto Rico and attended the University of Puerto Rico. Upon graduation, she taught English and French (she can speak both languages, as well as Spanish) to 8th graders. However, the position really wasn’t a good fit. She says with a laugh, “I was 22 years old and looked as young as my students!” Fortunately, she knew to seek advice, and sought out her college counselor. Her college counselor gave her some great advice – join the WAVES! (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), was the women’s branch of the United States Naval Reserve during World War II. The counselor was a WAVE and could truly speak from experience. Ruthie did some research and decided to enlist first, and then once in, she entered the officer training program. She says, “This was the best decision I ever made!”
As a WAVE, she was first stationed in Newport, R.I. It was so cold there that she thought she would freeze to death (remember, Ruthie grew up in tropical Puerto Rico!). But she explains that, luckily, she has her Mother’s temperament in that, “nothing beats me. I am determined – what I start, I finish.” Her perseverance paid off because when she became an officer, her first duty was at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL. She notes, with a huge grin on her face, that this station is where all the young officers began their flight training. According to Ruthie, “It was paradise! There were only 3 of us WAVES. Oh Boy, we had a field day!!” It was there that she met a gorgeous marine who swept her off her feet. Within 10 months of first meeting, Ruthie and John (Jack) were married.
Ruthie says, with a huge smile, “we had a wonderful marriage. And each of our sons [they have 2 sons] said, when they get married, their goal is to have a marriage just like their parents.” Apparently, her sons learned by example. Both are married, have children and grandchildren.
After marrying, Ruthie was allowed to remain a WAVE until the birth of her first child. Then she was released from active duty. About that time, Jack was transferred to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, located near Irvine, California. Ruthie loved it there. She and the boys would stay there when Jack would go out on active duty. This air base is where the President would land when coming to California. During the time that Richard Nixon was President, he would come there often. Ruthie remembers those occasions as quite the event!
The family did get to travel and live with Jack during his stint in Italy because it was part of NATO. While it was interesting, Ruthie was glad to return to her favorite spot in California.
Ruthie and Jack loved the theater, and opera was their “favorite thing.” As soon as they moved to a new location, they would go to the theaters in the area and get season tickets. Eventually, Ruthie’s interest led to her getting a job making costumes for the San Jose Opera!
Ruthie’s Jack passed away about 10 years ago. By then, Ruthie’s sons were both living in this area (Gaithersburg and Annandale). Ruthie noted, with words of appreciation and admiration that her son John’s boss told him “to take all the time you need to take care of your mom.” And take care of her both sons did. Each son took a week every other month to come spend time with their mom. But, as Ruthie says with a laugh, “like a true Marine Corp. wife, I obeyed my orders – ‘Ruthie, you are only one person – you need to move closer to your sons!’” And so, she did. Now her sons come visit on a regular basis, and she gets to spend time with her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren!
Ruthie moved into the Highlands in 2015. She says that her favorite things about Kensington Park is that “everybody is interested in my well-being. Everyone is kind and takes wonderful care of me.” Ruthie adds, with another of her famous smiles, “Everybody respects my privacy. That is the most important thing.”
Spending time with Ruthie is a true joy. Her stories are interesting, and more important, Ruthie is cheerful and always has a positive outlook, which really is contagious. Ruthie says that she is sincerely happy here – and it shows! She is one of the many crown jewels of Kensington Park!