Ruth Emma Fielding Henard passed into “The Next Room” peacefully on March 4th, 2019, in her own home, with loved ones from near and far, surrounding her with their love.
Ruth grew up in New London, CT and received a B.A. from Connecticut College for Women, now Connecticut College. She was active in theatre, drama and musical productions in leading roles, and those who watched and heard her performances thought that she would follow this path as a career. Her musical talents were also shared in her church choir, where she met her future husband, a student minister at the New London Methodist Church. Her life’s priorities shifted. A minister’s wife from 1944-1972, as her husband Ralph wrote, “Ruth was a full partner in the ministry--from singing beautifully in the choir but never pushing her gifted voice forward, to driving Russ Hibbard’s truck for the paper drive to earn money for re-building the burned church. She was a partner in visiting parishioners, in working with youth, in working with the women’s group, and in caring for me—and listening and commenting on sermons.” Ruth and Ralph served churches in New London, Mystic, and East Hartford, Connecticut, Providence and East Greenwich, R.I., Columbus (Bexley), Ohio, Indianapolis and Indiana, before serving First United Methodist Church in Boulder, CO from 1966-1972. When Ralph pursued his doctorate at the University of Colorado, Ruth started a new career as the Administrative Coordinator at CLEAR, the Center for Labor Education and Research at the University of Colorado, where she became an integral part of the work of the center.
Ruth is the mother of Joy Henard Bettencourt, Bruce Henard and Paul Henard. Bruce and Paul have preceded her in passing, as has her husband, Ralph. She is survived by her daughter, Joy (husband, Art) Bettencourt, and her two grandchildren, Ren and Margaux (husband, Tom) Pasquarella, as well as many relatives, including nieces and nephews on both her and Ralph’s side of the family. In Connecticut, Ruth is survived by nephews, Robert fielding of Quaker Hill and Tom Fielding of Sandy Hook, and nieces, Myrna Edgecomb of Waterford and Linda Parker of Salem. Her continuous message to her children and grandchildren -–find what is unique about your talents and spirit, and embrace and live that fully. She has supported all in pursuing that goal.
Ruth’s grace and kindness are the real story that defines her life. To the very end of her days, she was more concerned for the comfort and well being of those around her than with her own. She taught us all how to age gracefully and independently.
In a bio that Ruth wrote about herself a few years ago, she concluded with this thought: “I see the present period of my life as the time for learning to live more in the life of the spirit, fulfilling tasks that are unfinished, and I am even more convinced than ever that Christ has a message for our time and that there is power available to us through prayer and meditation to know what that message is and to be able to live it.”
Ruth’s unwavering wish was to spend her last years and days in her own home. It truly can “take a village” to provide a positive experience. Ruth’s family would like to thank the Visiting Angels caregivers whose loving companionship, sensitivity, and joyful care have made them an integral part of the family; the nurses and chaplains of Abode Hospice who provided compassionate care for Ruth and meaningful solace for Joy; the remarkable neighbors who have given abiding friendship over many years, helping with practical tasks and sharing joyous celebrations of birthdays and holidays; her friends from F.U.M.C., as well as Matthias Krier in the present, and Pat Bruns in past years, for their ministry and kindness and friendship; and to Dr. Coco Dughi, whose positive words and energy have brought uplifting moments to doctor visits and dignity and fulfillment throughout Ruth’s aging journey. And Joy would like to thank her “good husband” (as Ruth called him) and her daughters, Margaux and Ren, for their support as they all shared Ruth’s final years.
During these last years, Ruth continued to give as much as she was receiving. As one of her caregivers wrote to her on her 98th birthday, “She has taught me patience and living in the moment in deeper ways. . .She loves in ways that inspire me to soften, to listen, and to ‘let everyone be themselves’. “
A service In Celebration of Ruth’s Life is planned for June 9th at First United Methodist Church in Boulder. More details will follow.