Margaret Ruth Henderson

HARTFORD CITY – Margaret Ruth Henderson, 93, formerly of Hartford City, passed away peacefully with her family at her bedside on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, in Tempe, Ariz.

Ruth was born on December 6, 1919, in Hartford City, the youngest child born to Charles and Cora (Cooper) Howard. She grew up in Hartford City and lived there her whole life with two brief exceptions: while attending Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) majoring in music and English and the last few years spent in Arizona with her family.

Upon graduation from Indiana Central Ruth moved back to Hartford City where she obtained her first teaching job for Hartford City Schools. While teaching at Hartford City High School, Ruth became friends with Ed Henderson, the teacher in the classroom next door. They fell in love and married on August 29, 1945, at First EUB Church, Hartford City. Ruth was baptized, married, raised her children and celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary at this same church.

In 1950, Ruth and Ed purchased "the big white house" on Main Street and lovingly turned it into a home and a gathering place for family and friends. Ruth and Ed were married for 55 years and together made family, education and church the foci of their lives. They have two sons, Mark Richard and David Duane, who were their greatest joy and source of pride. Ruth loved the role of "grandma" and delighted in her three grandchildren.

As a working mother, Ruth earned a Masters degree in English with a straight A average from Ball State University, Muncie, and graduated the same day that her son, Mark, graduated from high school. Ruth worked briefly for the Oswalt Menu Company and for Trinity Church, however she spent over 30 years as a teacher in Hartford City, Gas City and later Blackford County Schools. During her teaching career, she taught grades 7–12, but her first love was teaching grammar and English literature to high school juniors, especially the novels "The Scarlet Letter" and "Huckleberry Finn".

Ruth was also very proud of the business English class she created and taught at Blackford High School. Ruth and Ed continued to teach side-by-side for many years and during some summers led student trips to England.

Ruth was very involved in church; she participated in Sunday school, sang in the choir, served on numerous committees and worked as the church secretary for several years. In addition, she was a proud and active member of Wit and Wisdom, a women's literary society.

Ruth was a talented musician.  As a five-year old she started performing duets in church with her father and by age 9 was the leader of a harmonica band in local theaters.  

In high school she studied classical piano, but her first love and greatest ability was playing popular songs by ear.  She majored in vocal performance in college and her beautiful soprano voice could be heard frequently at churches, weddings and funerals.

Ruth loved entertaining her grandchildren at her beloved Steinway grand piano and in her late 80's was still performing for members of her retirement community in Arizona.

Ruth and Ed adopted a Cocker Spaniel puppy, Buffy, who Ruth lovingly referred to as David's and Mark's "little sister". Many days found Ruth in the kitchen stewing chicken for homemade dog treats.

Ruth was an avid and talented golfer in her later years, golfing most days once she retired from teaching. Known as one of the best pie bakers in the county, she proudly taught her grandchildren to bake her famous pies.

In 2006, Ruth moved to Arizona to be closer to her children and grandchildren, but always thought of herself as a life-long resident of Hartford City.

Ruth is survived by her son. Mark, (Sue) Henderson, and their three children, Erin Kathleen, Benjamin Samuel Harry and Abigail Elizabeth, of Chandler, Ariz., and son, David Henderson, of Pittsburg, Calif.

She was predeceased by her husband, Ed, parents, Charles and Cora Howard, brothers, Glen and Robert, and sisters, Helen Howard Beetley and Mary Esther Howard Knecht Sanders.

Services will be conducted at Trinity United Methodist Church, 303 S. Walnut St., Hartford Citym on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, at 2 p.m. with visitation an hour preceding. Evening visitation will be at Waters Funeral Home, 501 S. Washington St., Hartford City, on Friday Jan. 25, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Ruth will be interred at Harford City Cemetery, next to her beloved husband, Ed.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the local Ed and Ruth Henderson Scholarship Fund c/o Blackford County Community Foundation, P.O. Box 327, Hartford City, IN 47348.

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Published in Hartford City News Times from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1, 2013