Over 100 friends and family members greeted unsuspecting Shelburne native Ruth Morrow with a loud “surprise” and a standing ovation to celebrate her ninetieth birthday last Friday afternoon, Nov. 22, in the Shelburne town offices.
“She did not have a clue about the surprise,” a niece announced to party planners. When asked to speak, Ruth didn’t utter a word. “When I looked in that room, all I saw was a sea of faces. I just couldn’t believe it,” she later explained. “I think this is the first time that Ruth has ever been speechless,” commented another family member.
The once-in-a-lifetime event, planned by Judy Frazer in collaboration with Colleen Haag and numerous election officials, saw legislators and longtime Shelburne residents rub shoulders with town employees, the family, and members of the Green Mountain Doll Club.
“There are about 15 doll club members here for Ruth,” said member Mary Swasey. “She has been involved with the club since the beginning in 1965. She was the treasurer for 33 years.”
“Ruth is such a wonderful representative of our community,” said Frazer. “She is a model for all of us to emulate. She has been a public servant and an involved community member for the better part of 90 years, and I wanted her to be recognized. Ruth is an inspiration.”
A newspaper’s short article cannot do justice to Morrow’s lifetime of good works and good stories, although a brief biography follows:
Born on Nov. 22, 1923, Ruth was raised in Shelburne and graduated from the local high school in 1941. Following her service in WWII in Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVE) in the United States Navy from October 1944 through September 1946, she married Frederick Rufus Morrow on Aug. 14, 1947. The couple raised three children: Fred, Stuart, and Christine.
Ruth was involved in starting the Red Cross Swimming program in the 1950s. She was a 4H and Scout leader in the early 60s, an active member of the Shelburne Historical Society until the society ceased to exist, and for the past 50 years has served as a Shelburne election official. A lifetime member of Trinity Episcopal Church, Ruth was a bookkeeper at the Creamery, followed by employment as a bookkeeper/treasurer at Champlain Valley Union High School until retiring in the 1980s. She was the Town Auditor from 1961-1968, a Pierson Library Trustee from 1971-1982, and currently serves on the Cemetery Committee; Ruth places American flags on Veteran’s graves at all three Shelburne cemeteries in observance of Memorial Day. She is actively involved in the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Society of Mayflower Descendants, the Green Mountain Doll Club, and the National Geographic Society. Ruth was presented the Vermont Veterans Medal by Governor Jim Douglas in June 2004 and has twice received the Secretary of States Recognition for 20 years of Public Service.