Monday, July 21, 2014

Immortality (July 21, 2014) -- Ruth Ann Carpenter

"Immortality Lies in Being Remembered by Family and Friends." -- John D. Tew 

Ruth Ann Carpenter (1889 - 1920)

Today is the 125th anniversary of the birth of my grand aunt, Ruth Ann Carpenter.  Ruth Ann was the older sister of my maternal grandfather, Everett Shearman Carpenter.  I never met Ruth because she died almost thirty-two years before I was born.

Ruth was born on July 21st, 1889 in Providence, Rhode Island.  She was the first child of Samuel Eber Carpenter (1853 - 1929) and his wife Sarah Etta Carpenter nee Freeman (1858 - 1945).  Sam and Sarah named their daughter after Sam's mother, Ruth Ann Carpenter nee Miller (1828 -1893).

Ruth and my grandfather were apparently very close.  I never heard my grandfather ever mention having a sister, but then again I was only about ten years old when my grandfather died and the lapse might be more of my memory than his.  I did not become aware of Ruth Ann and her story until I was well into my adulthood and did not see photographs of her until perhaps a decade or more ago.

As shown in a post here on July 9th, even though Ruth Ann was almost two years older than her brother Everett, she and he graduated from Cumberland High School on the same day in June 1907. Evidence from surviving report cards indicates that Ruth was not the student that her younger brother was and he graduated as co-valedictorian of their small class. Ruth Ann did not go on to college, but Everett went to Brown and graduated with a degree in Engineering. Ruth and Everett obviously remained close even as young adults for my grandfather carried small photos of his sister in his Brown pocket calendar; perhaps it was because he missed her, but it might also have been because he was proud of his sister and wanted to show her off to his friends and classmates.  I think Ruth was a very attractive young woman.

Photos of Ruth Ann Carpenter in her brother's Brown University calendar date book (September 1907)

Ruth Ann Carpenter circa 1917 (perhaps her wedding portrait?)

As it happened, Ruth did end up marrying one of Everett's classmates at Brown, Ira W. Knight. Ira and Ruth Ann were married at Christ Church in Lonsdale, Rhode Island on May 21, 1917. They had one son, Richard Carpenter Knight, who was born on September 12, 1920 when Ruth Ann was not quite two months past her 31st birthday.

Ira W. Knight circa mid-1950s

Richard Carpenter Knight (September 12, 1920 - December 13, 1975)

Sadly, Ruth Ann never really knew her son for she died twelve days after his birth due to complications and infection from the delivery. Richard's birth was in the years just prior to the discovery and development of penicillin by Sir Alex Fleming in 1928.  Had the birth taken place a few years later, or if this first of the miracle drug antibiotics had been developed and made available a decade or so earlier, then Ruth Ann might well have survived a compromised birthing -- and I might have come to know her many years later.  

Today, from Iceland, I raise a glass in memory of my grand aunt Ruth Ann Carpenter Knight who remains forever young in the thoughts and renewed memories of the family members she never knew!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Photographs from the personal collection of the author.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Copyright 2014, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely tribute to your grandaunt. The picture of her as a child is adorable!