A Life to Remember

Local environmental activist Ruth Masters passed away on Nov 7 at the age of 97 – here is what I wrote about her impact on my life: 

We began to know Ruth Masters in her later years as my husband, Warren (a biologist), was the volunteer coordinator for the “Friends of the Master’s Greenway” – 18 acres of prime riverfront land that Ruth donated as a wildlife sanctuary and public park to our community.  Warren organized volunteers who pulled out invasive holly, Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry throughout the entire property.  From then on, we would receive the occasional phone message from 90-something Ruth saying, “Hey Warren, I just wanted to get rid of some old wood here on the property but don’t quite have the beef to start up my chainsaw, wondering if you could come over…” 

At around this time my son Arlo and I would visit Ruth in her home once a week.   During these visits we would receive a bookmark  (made from old leather suitcases) with a lesson on recycling and Arlo would be insistently taught “never to smoke”.  She would also tell us how studies have shown that kids who own pets are better stewards of nature.  Sometimes  we would slowly walk with her to her mailbox or to see the trilliums in her forest, her cat “Tippy Tail’s” jingling bell never far behind.  

Ruth was the inspiration behind my painting “Green House”.   As we learned through her stories and the newspaper clippings taped on her walls, Ruth was proud to be a “senior shit-disturber”.  She consistently  annoyed developers and politicians in efforts to conserve wild areas and protect animals.   Ruth’s house and property even seemed to attract wildlife, especially deer – because she fed them. 

The painting, “Green House” symbolizes living with green ideals within a society largely indifferent to protecting the wild.  Ruth had the spunk and bravery to be a wildlife defender, proudly standing up for what she believed in and encouraging others to do the same – which is why I will always admire her.

Quote:  You know, the stakes are pretty high; we’re all going to lose badly if people don’t get off their butts and do something to reverse the collision course we’re on right now.  Ruth Masters in “Us Dames Have Come a Long Way” with Hazel Lennox.

05. December 2017 by Tracy Kobus
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