Notes from the Old Noank Jail: Noank loses another saint, Ruth Hodgson

A saint is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “a person acknowledged as holy or virtuous and regarded in Christian faith as being in heaven after death.” And on March 26, Noank lost yet another “saint” in the form of Ruth Agnes Proctor Hodgson.

Ruth was born Dec. 24, 1919 shortly after the close of World War I and grew up in a large Norwich family during the Great Depression. After graduating from Norwich Free Academy in 1937, she went to Willimantic Teachers College (now ECSU), graduated in 1940, taught in Chaplin and Norwich, and visited the Noank area while doing summer child care, where she met Leroy Elliot Hodgson.

Roy entered the Army, served in the Motor Pool and, after WWII, married Ruth in 1945. They moved into a Noank apartment and had 3 children (Robert, Nancy and Russ). It got pretty crowded, so they eventually bought the house at 43 Spicer Ave., which became the family home for many years.

Roy worked at Dow Chemical while Ruth raised the children and then eventually became the kindergarten teacher at Noank School. What started as part-time work became a full-time job that would last 25 years.

She ended up being so overwhelmed with students, the school recruited her good friend Alicia Crossman as a teacher’s aide, and they became the “dynamic duo” of early education. And Ruth did this while very successfully raising her own children at the same time.

Ruth also became a mainstay at the Noank Baptist Church, teaching Sunday school, serving on their Board of Education, supervising the Nursery and Junior Departments, and also became one of the first female deacons, leading many services at local convalescent and rest homes. Her energy, combined with the energies from Alicia and other women like them, helped to transform the church into a vital community organization.

As a sweet, gentle but determined person, Ruth was a role model for her own children as well as her students, along with the people with whom she interacted. This discipline helped her to survive the tragedies of Leroy’s early death from cancer in 1978 as well as her eldest son Robert’s death in 2010.

In spite of these events, along with extensive rehabs at Pendleton Nursing Home, the Rev. Paul Hayes reported that “she showed an uncanny ability to bounce back and return home. Through it all, she maintained her patient and faithful perspective on life... On more than one occasion, I’ve been convinced that Ruth was as close to perfection as anyone I’ve ever known.”

For many, Ruth Hodgson was an icon of stability. She gave of herself to her family and community, and was blessed with family members, including daughter Nancy, who came back to be with her at the end of a very full life.

Ruth had lived to be 98 years old. Many friends feel that her love for adventurous travel abroad, combined with her love of dancing, were major factors.

We’ll miss you very much, Ruth.

Ed Johnson lives in Noank.

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