Woodson, Ruby Garrard
June 22, 1931 - Feb. 8, 2008
Ruby Garrard Woodson, Sarasota, born in Houston County, Ala., died Feb. 8, 2008.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday at Greater Hurst Chapel AME Church. Burial will be at Hinson Cemetery in Graceville. Jones Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Mrs. Ruby G. Woodson, a lifelong advocate for education, youth and African-American culture, died Feb. 8, 2008, of complications from a cerebral hemorrhage.
Born in Houston County, Ala., she was a valedictorian graduate of Sarasota's Booker High School. She went on to earn a B.S. degree in chemistry from Florida A&M University. She moved to Washington, D.C., earned a master's degree at American University, and embarked on a career as a teacher, in which capacity she served within the D.C. Public Schools for 13 years.
In 1972 she left D.C.P.S. to found Cromwell Academy, a private high school for gifted students. In the early years of Cromwell's existence, the majority of the students' tuitions were heavily subsidized by scholarship awards, funded primarily from her own savings. This extraordinary institution saw its graduates go on to earn baccalaureates and advanced degrees from prestigious institutions such as Yale, Columbia, Vassar, Smith and Mount Holyoke.
Upon her "retirement" and return to her Sarasota home, Mrs. Woodson's passion for service was initially realized through board memberships at the Asolo Center for the Performing Arts, Habitat for Humanity and the Sarasota County Library Advisory Board. Coming full circle to her roots as an educator, she went on to found the Florida Academy for African American Culture. This cultural research center and library has hosted oratory contests for local high school students and essay contests for grade schoolers, and donated several thousands of books to school-age children in the community.
Mrs. Woodson, a product of Sarasota's Newtown community, has had her achievements chronicled in The Washington Post and the Herald-Tribune and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as well as by the United Way of Sarasota County, which named her one of 12 "Women of Community Impact."
Preceded in death by her mother, Ella Mae Garrard Singleton, and her father, David Garrard, she leaves behind a son, William G. Woodson of Minneapolis; a sister, Eudonis G. Sloan of Sarasota; and two grandchildren.
A memorial service has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 18, at Greater Hurst Chapel AME Church, 2730 N. Links Ave., Sarasota.
Published in Herald Tribune on Feb. 13, 2008.