Ruth Fontaine by Rena Lou Scott (Parks) and Jessie Virginia Scott (Williams)
Ruth Fontaine was born in Paris, Arkansas in 1887. Her family later moved to Van Buren, Arkansas. Her father, a lawyer, believed in an education for his children and she was sent to Boarding School. At sixteen she came back to Kentucky to live in Stith Valley, Meade County, where she taught in a one room school.
In 1908 she married Walter Lee Scott and went to live on a farm. To this union were born seven children. She was not used to farm life but she quickly learned how to live off the land. There was not much recreation so she planned her own. Christmas was a tradition. Surrounded by relatives, good food, and a tree decorated by homemade decorations. She would always organize a Children’s Day program at the Methodist Church about four miles away and reached by driving there in an old surrey. She would make new clothes for her children and costumes out of feed sacks or what ever was on hand.
Ruth Fontaine Scott was a remarkable woman -- a Woman for all seasons -- for any era in Time.
She had character. She displayed courage, determination, leadership and independence. All the traits the modern woman wants handed to her, Ruth achieved by her own intelligence.
In Stith Valley and in Meade County, Ruth was a PIONEER. The 4-H Youth Program, which is a part of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, was in its infancy and she became a dynamic leader. She used the opportunity to educate and to elevate young people. She encouraged them to assume the roles of leadership. Her eldest son chose Extension work as his career.
How could any one who went to 4-H camp with her, forget the experience! In those days, you didn’t pay $40 for 5 days at camp and go riding off in an air-conditioned bus. You furnished two live chickens, a gallon of beans, a peck of potatoes and anything that was growing in the garden. You crawled up in the back of a cattle truck with the chicken coops and cabbage and rode to camp. An experience that was remembered forever! She encouraged the young people to excel. She felt the future of Meade County, our country and our nation lay in their hands; and, she was determined that they would be prepared.
Ruth had COURAGE. In the 1930’s her Fontaine cousin was molested and beaten by a black man. Tension was high in Brandenburg. Women spoke in hushed voices and men spoke of lynching. Ruth stood up and spoke out -- she said this was a matter to be decided by the laws of the land. She further said that the black community should be reassured of their safety.
Ruth had DETERMINATION. When her husband became Sheriff of Meade County she left the Valley that had been settled by and named for her ancestors. Later when her husband died while in office, she didn’t raise her hands or cry and say, “What am I going to do with seven children?” When asked by the leaders of the community if they could help she requested a meeting -- she asked to be appointed sheriff, or that her 18 year old son be appointed. Her son became Sheriff before he was old enough to vote.
Ruth was a POLITICIAN. She was a Democrat and believed it was the people’s party. When her son wanted to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, she asked help in obtaining a congressional appointment.
Ruth was PATRIOTIC. During the years of World War II, three sons were in the service of their country; but, she did not sit at home and brood. She opened her home to soldiers and their wives when housing was so scarce at Fort Knox. In 1943 she rode the train to Louisville 5 days a week and attended College so she could teach during the teacher shortage. Later there was a need for civil workers in Washington; and she moved to the capital city. After 10 years in Washington she came back to Kentucky and taught school for 2 years. She then studied art and painted pictures. Many of these paintings hang in her children’s and friends’ homes.
Ruth was INTELLIGENT. She read everything. She could talk sensibly, honestly and candidly on most any subject. And she expected those around her to do likewise.
She enjoyed traveling -- She and a friend rode a Greyhound bus to California. They stopped along the way to visit friends and relatives and points of interest. It took them six weeks to get back to Kentucky. When her son was a teacher at the Royal Air Academy she flew to England and took a trip to France by herself.
Ruth had a sense of LOYALTY to her friends and family. Her ties were strong and she called many people in our county, “Cousin.” Her knowledge of the ancestors of many families made her a living depository of genealogy. She was an organizing member of the Ambrose Meador Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.
Ruth was a DEVOTED MOTHER in the truest sense of the word. She was nominated Kentucky Mother of the Year.
She leaves heirs that are accomplished in every profession and field. Seven children, twenty grandchildren, and twenty seven great grandchildren.
Ruth Fontaine Scott left a legacy; she inspired her family and friends to excel; to serve their country and their fellow man; and, to love God.
Jessie S. Williams, daughter
Rt#5, Box 552
Elizabethtown, Ky 42701
Rena S. Parks, daughter
811 N. Main St
Elizabethtown, Ky 42701
MY MOTHER by Jessie Virginia Scott (Williams)
At fifty six after raising a family of seven children to grow to adulthood, many women would have set back and rested on their laurels or decided to retire to a rocking chair and mull over olden times but not the one I shall tell you about:
She came to Washington to visit during the war years. It was the fashion then to be a “government girl” to help out in the war effort. She took an examination and was accepted to do her bit. She took her job seriously, mothered the bosses and took an interest in all around her. Not in the way of just being curious but because of her insatiable interest in people - where they were fun, shy they were glad or sad. A fellow worker who went around not speaking to anyone nor ever smiling would soon be speaking to her and smiling with a face that showed it was an effort. People who understood that there was a person who was interested in them. Each day she went to the office with a slip from a Begonia, a leaf from an African Violet, a recipe clipped from a magazine, an item of interest she knew someone would like to see, a book to loan. As people passed her in the hall you could see at some time she had cheered them in some way. She called them not always by name but by the state they were from or some characteristic by which they were known - not a malicious term, but one they loved.
When she decided she wanted to go back to be among her old friends, she retired to enter yet another career. Her retirement was attended by all, they crowded near to wish her luck and she invited all to visit her and meant it too. The gifts, the cards, and the crowd testified for the high esteem in which she was held. She went back to the house in the town where she had lived before her government career but she still wasn’t ready to sit back and let the world go by. Besides having something cooked for everyone who drops in and keeping flowers blooming on each window sill, she is substitute teacher and her art class she attends once a week is her one big hobby now. A remark by a person in her town sums up the way her life has influenced others. This was made by someone much younger who has never had an opportunity to leave the town. “Miss Ruth, we have all watched your programs and interest in others through the years, you have been our inspiration, and when you give up we will too.” She could have given up at forty seven when she was bedridden for over a year with arthritis but that is something she does not dwell on- unless you ask why she keeps a handkerchief tied around her wrist - a gay starched clean one for each day to keep her wrist from aching.
Her one big trait has been her trust in her fellow man. She has the faith and ability to trust everyone and believes in them. Her faith is as a child.
How do I know - As her daughter I meet people each day in a city where
people live side by side for years and never speak nor know their neighbors.
Where people say to me, “How’s your mother?” The boy in the cleaning shop,
the grocer, the bus driver and the clerks in the store, the people she
worked with who will never forget the cheer she brought to them at one
time or another.