Ruth grew up on farm near Dexter, began teaching school at 17 and married in 1939. The Dexter schools prohibited married women in the classroom so she worked for the U.S. Farm Security Administration organizing and educating African-American and white share-croppers in Southeast Missouri. After her children were born, she left the work force and joined and helped lead many community organizations including the Methodist Church, the Dexter Civic Club, the Dexter Garden Club, the American Legion Women's Auxiliary, the Dexter Parks Board and the Dexter hospital board, among others.
After her daughter entered college, she went back to college for her bachelor's and master's degrees in education at Southeast Missouri State University. By that time the Dexter school board had seen the light and was also desperate for teachers of any gender and marital status, so Ruth accepted a position and taught in the primary grades until retirement.
Her children will host a Celebration of her LIfe, Love and Wit at the Dexter Methodist Church Wesley Hall on Sunday, April 22, at 2 p.m. With her family and friends, they will memorialize her passions and many achievements: catcher of fish large enough to swallow Jonah (to hear her tell it); a life-long liberal Democrat and proud of it; great cook and world's best pie baker according to her nephew, Joe Weber; bidder and maker of grand slams; feminist; exceptional fund-raiser for community activities; an adept money manager who squeezed the nickel until the buffalo screamed; lover of nature, pets, wildlife and flowers; and, above all, a devoted mother.
The family asks those who wish to remember her consider a donation to the United Methodist Church of Dexter or to the Missouri Department of Conservation for improvements at the Otter Slough Conservation Area, Attention Donations, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, Mo. 65102. Please write in the memo line: Ruth Nichols Memorial.