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Porter was born October 7, 1927 in Columbus Grove, Ohio and passed away in Houston on September 17, 2013.
She was the third daughter of Ewing James and Bess Stouffer Porter. She attended Oberlin College and Bluffton College, where she received her degree in Music. Ruth was a gifted musician and played the violin, trumpet and cornet. She taught Music for the Grand Rapids, Ohio Independent School District for one year. Her older sister, Louise, had married and moved to Houston and after a few visits Ruth fell in love with Houston, Texas; a love that lasted her entire life.
She moved to Houston and worked for several years as a buyer for Foley's Department Stores. She then began her career as an outstanding elementary school teacher. She taught first, second and third grade for many years at Briargrove Elementary where she was admired, respected and loved by students, parents and faculty. She treasured the many letters she received from her students' parents thanking her for the difference she made in their children's life. Even while continuing to teach, she performed with the Houston Grand Opera. Ruth had a glorious contralto voice and was awarded the position of Master Chorister. She sang in more than 100 productions with the Opera. She was a chorus member for the opera Nixon in China, which Houston Grand Opera premiered in 1987. The production was filmed for TV and won an Emmy. Ruth was also part of the ensemble that performed it in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was both a club member and in the chorus of The Houston Tuesday Music Club for many years and greatly enjoyed performing with them. A life-long Presbyterian, she was a member of St. Phillips Presbyterian Church and a valued addition to the choir for many years. Ruth had a wonderful life filled with music, friends, family, and travel which she enjoyed to the fullest extent with her trademark quirky sense-of-humor. Ruth was always fun to be with. She was preceded in death by her parents, sisters Evelyn Reichenbach and Harriett Louise Downen, niece, Kara-Lee Finley and nephew Ralph Reichenbach.
Ruth is survived by nieces, Star Shelton and husband Weldon of Round Rock, Tx., Mary Waltz and husband Mike of Rawson, Ohio, Sally Tracy and husband Bill of Lima, Ohio, Nancy Reichenbach of Lyndhurst, Ohio, nephews Ewing Downen and wife Donna of Coalgate, Oklahoma, Ed Reichenbach and wife Nancy of Bluffton, Ohio, Doug Reichenbach and wife Pat of Perry, Ohio, and grandnieces and grandnephews Cherie Shelton of Dallas, Danica Shelton of Austin, Ryan Shelton and wife Brooke of Houston, Tasha Sport and husband Ross of Midland, Emery Downen of Coalgate, Ok., and Elizabeth Witt and husband Ryan of Huntsville as well as great-grand nieces and nephews Connor Sport, Hadleigh Shelton, Barrett Shelton, and Avery Witt.
Services were held September 20, 2013, at St. Phillip Presbyterian Church in Houston. Rev. Dr. John W. Wurster conducted the service and soloist Julia Fox honored Ruth with two beautiful solos. Ms. Fox was a friend and had sung with Ruth many times. While pastoring at churches in Ohio, Rev. Dr. Wurster had preached in the church in Columbus Grove that Ruth grew up attending and where her ancestors were founding members. The service was a lovely reflection of Ruth's life. Burial followed at Historic Hollywood Cemetery with arrangements handled by Claire Brothers Funeral Home.
Because The Houston Tuesday Music Club was such an important part of her life, memorial donations in Ruth's name are suggested: The Houston Tuesday Music Club; c/o Mary Ann Rush, Treasurer; 704 Olive Street; Houston, TX 77007-5750.
The family is deeply grateful to the staff at Garden Terrace of Houston and Vantage Hospice for the compassionate and loving care they gave to Ruth.
Claire Brothers Funeral Home
7901 Hillcroft Avenue Houston, TX 77081
Published in Houston Chronicle on Oct. 6, 2013