Anderson turns 90 today, joins nonagenarian club


EVANSTON — Ruth Anderson, a well-known community member loved by many, will celebrate her 90th birthday surrounded by family and friends today, Tuesday, July 26.

Born July 26, 1932, Ruth came into the world in Evanston and lived in town for about 11 years. “After those years, they actually moved just out of town to a ranch, and … [she] and her family lived there for the rest of the years it took her to complete her schooling,” Robin Cole, Anderson’s granddaughter, told the Herald.

When they lived out on the ranch, Ruth often had to stay with friends and people she knew pretty well in town while she went to high school because of the distance she’d have to travel from her own home.

“Back then, it was a pretty hard trip to make it to the schoolhouse every morning,” Cole said, “so it was definitely a different time.”

Shortly after her graduation, Ruth made the decision to become a teacher. She traveled often with her husband being in the military, and actually attended nine different universities during that time, taking classes anytime she could at different military bases where they were stationed.

She then got her bachelor’s degree in teaching at Pepperdine University in 1977, and began with her first job as an educator at Plainview — the small school just outside Evanston.

She taught seven students and seven grades at Plainview, and then worked in Carlsbad, California; Iceland, Virginia and back here in Evanston.

“Ruth has impacted and touched a lot of people’s lives over the years through her teaching and through the community,” Cole said, “and it’s really cool that she can be able to look back and remember all these accomplishments and life experiences.”

Ruth said her secret to longevity is family and hard work.

“If you ask me, I think the longevity of her life comes from staying active,” Cole said. “She walks almost every day, and just a few years ago she was still doing activities like yoga classes, and she even took jujitsu! I really think her secret is just staying active and also just being surrounded by the people that she loves and cares about. I think that that really fills her up and has added to the quality of her life significantly.”

In retirement, Ruth has loved to travel and has traveled all around the world with many of her friends for several years. She said her favorite place she’s lived is Iceland. When asked about her favorite birthday, or a birthday that has stood out over the last 89 years, Ruth said, “My 60th birthday at a pub in Ireland with my sister, Lillian, and my mom, Mary.”

As well as being a travel-enthusiast, the birthday girl is also a master quilter and spends her time making many unique and beautiful pieces for her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, and many others. She enjoys reading, getting together with her friends, gardening and surprise visits from her family.

Some advice she’d give to younger people today, she said, is, “Stay close to your family and share thoughts, fears and success with others. Believe in God, and stay strong.”

Ruth Anderson has two children with her husband, Michael Cole and Karen O’Driscoll, as well as six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

“We had a little get-together with some of her close friends and relatives in May of this year to celebrate while we were all together, and today we’re all traveling down to spend several days with her to take her to dinner and just enjoy each other’s company,” Cole said. “If you have a memory or a moment that Ruth has impacted your life, please share it with her to brighten her birthday. Please email letters, notes, or stories to [email protected] including your name and they will be delivered to her.”

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