WOODINVILLE — Ruth Samuelson achieved a milestone less than 1 percent of Americans reach (US Census), having just celebrated her 100th birthday Sept. 12.
“I was born in 1919 in Bayonne, New Jersey, but we lived in a small town called Garwood,” Ruth said. “I had one brother and wonderful parents who were loving people. My dad was strict — we had to tow the mark — but nonetheless was very caring.”
Ruth grew up when times were extremely tough for American families, having lived through the Great Depression and WWII. There were no modern conveniences people take for granted these days. Television was nonexistent, as was the Internet, video games and cell phones. The microwave, Tupperware and the first bikini came along in 1946. The transistor radio was invented in 1953, the polio vaccine was discovered in 55’, the portable calculator came out in 67’ and the personal computer in 1975.
“I remember a man coming to our door to deliver the radio. We were just thrilled. It really filled the bill,” Ruth said. “I didn’t listen to rock-n-roll, but I remember listening to Amos and Andy — it was a comedy show.”
Money was tight back then Ruth recalled as both parents had to work to support the family.
“We had to watch our pennies very carefully,” Ruth said. “I’m still quite careful with my money today.”
A couple of fond memories from Ruth’s childhood were times she spent outdoors and at her grandmother's home.
“I was an outdoor kid — loved being outside. We played at a nearby park and often hiked 5 miles to a pool to go swimming. We also played in haystacks on a farm nearby. I remember the farmer yelling at us to get off his haystacks. He followed us home one time, knocked on our door and told my mom, ‘those kids need to come back and pitch that hay back into a stack.'
“I used to go to my grandmother's house when I got home from school because my parents were still at work. She was a wonderful cook and gardener. My dad gardened too. Later on in life, I was a Master Gardener.”
Ruth and her husband Vincent had four children John, Jeff, James, and Janet. They also have eight grandkids and four great-grandchildren. James passed a couple of years ago after losing his bout with cancer. Vincent is no longer here as well.
Ruth moved to Woodinville in 2004. She has lived at the Fairwinds-Brittany Park Retirement Community ever since.
“We (she and her son Jeff) looked at retirement places in each of my children’s town — in Jersey, Long Island, and Colorado. I came out here to Jeff’s house for Christmas one year and decided to put roots down — Woodinville is a beautiful town — I love it here and really like it living at Brittany Park. The staff has been great to me — it’s like family here.”
Ruth attributes her longevity to healthy living.
“I don’t smoke or drink. Up until a year or so ago, I walked two-to-three miles a day and also worked with a personal trainer.”
Ruth used to get out and about in her car but stopped driving about 5 years ago at the advice of her son Jeff. Actually it was more like after Jeff confiscated her vehicle.
“She told me she was going to stop driving, but after agreeing to do so, she passed me in her car on a road in downtown Woodinville,” Jeff said. “I called her afterward and said mom you just passed me in your car.”
To which Ruth replied, “it was raining and I needed to go to Haggen’s and the car was there so I did.”
Jeff came by the next day and took the car to his house.
On Sept. 15, Ruth surrounded by family and friends, celebrated her birthday at the Woodinville Community Methodist Church.
"I was obviously overwhelmed with the wonder of it all. Everyone that I love was there and I will always remember how special they made me feel.
"Words can't do it justice. If I could paint a picture it would be of joy, sunshine, and happiness. My family is such a blessing and I am so thankful for my lovely church, Woodinville community and for Brittany Park."