Mrs. Ruth Ashley Newman Henderson

Published 3:05 pm Thursday, September 3, 2020

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Mrs. Ruth Ashley Newman Henderson, 92, passed away peacefully at Piedmont Midtown Hospital in Columbus, Georgia on Sept. 2, 2020. She was born April 29, 1928, in rural Randolph County in East Alabama to Henry Tolbert Ashley and Maggie Roughton Ashley. 

Growing up, Ruth’s family moved frequently as a result of their farming throughout East Alabama. She graduated high school at 16 years of age, moved to a boarding house in Fairfax, and worked at Fairfax Mill. She later attended technical school in Opelika, once for secretarial skills and later to learn to key punch, which she did at Management Information Center for West Point Pepperell. Later, approaching and passing retirement age, she worked at Taunton’s Hardware, the City of Lafayette, and at the Chambers County Courthouse.

Ruth married Minor Malcolm Newman in 1950 and raised three children in Riverview, a small mill village now part of Valley. In addition to working full time in full concert with her husband, she was also a homemaker, very active in church ministries, and heavily involved in the music, sports and religious activities of her children. Even after her husband passed away in 1972, when she was only 44 years of age, she managed to finance the college education of all three of her children and see that they entered their chosen career paths.  She always expected excellence from her children, and led by example.

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Even after the gradual effects of dementia took their toll, Ruth was an avid reader, worked versions of crosswords and other word puzzles, and watched a Hallmark movie before bedtime every night. Despite severe short term memory loss, she never forgot our names and enjoyed recalling old times.

Ruth loved nature and loved nothing more than a scenic car ride.

She loved her potted plants and many other simple things. She was an expert cook in the southern vernacular making distinctive biscuits, chicken and dumplings, and pecan pie; we certainly cannot forget her pound, coconut, caramel, German chocolate, and chocolate cakes.

As she aged, “Gram” adapted without complaint (but selective strong will) having a joy that comes from a life well lived, as well as being true to herself, her values, and her God.  She spent her last six years under the excellent care of the staff at Gardens At Calvary Assisted Living in Columbus, Georgia.

In addition to her parents, she is predeceased by her siblings, Doris Swader, Henry Ashley, Lester Ashley, Edward Ashley and Evelyn Brown. She is survived by sisters, Eloise Wilder and Ruby Duncan.

She later married and was predeceased by Ralph Henderson of the Ridge Grove community in Chambers County.

She is survived by her children, James Edward Newman (Jennifer W.) of Jacksonville, Florida, Alan Glenn Newman (Kelli O.), and Joy Newman Stilwell (Lewis); grandchildren, James Malcolm Newman, Shea Shelley, Megan Partrick, Kevin Stilwell and David Stilwell; and great grandchildren, Liam Newman, Tripp Shelley, and Braden, Mary London and Berkley Partick.

She is also survived by many nieces and nephews whom she loved as her own. Ruth’s mother lived with her and her children during their youth, so we often saw our cousins and their families.  These family memories are still sweet, even today. 

Ruth had a huge influence on all our lives by the example she lived through service every day. She always had time to bake, to sew, and to visit church and community members, always with a dish in hand ready to give away.

Her children are truly fortunate to have had a mother who was strong, loving, fearless, kind, lived a life of selfless action, all the while holding true to her Christian values. James and Alan would like to thank our sister, Joy, and her coworkers at The Gardens at Calvary for the 24/7 care and on-call readiness over these last years of her life.

Due to ongoing caution, a private family service will be held.  Donations in her name can be made to River View Baptist Church, The Gardens at Calvary, or Beallwood Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia.

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