Over the years, Union Island has celebrated its fair share of Centenarians, the most recent being Ruth Ferary-Mitchell, who will celebrate her 100th birthday tomorrow.
Born on April 18, 1920 on Union Island to Adelaide (nee Noble) and Jonas Ferary, Ruth lived with her family at Jerome.
Young Ruth attended the Ashton Village Government School, where the head-master at the time was Mr Archer. He was also the local preacher at the St Mathias Anglican Church where Ruth attended and sang in the choir.
After completing her School Leaving Exam in Standard 6, Ruth learnt tailoring with Mother Hazell. Subsequently she learnt dressmaking with Mrs Mulraine. She became very skilled in sewing and needlework, making pants, jackets and dresses for many people.
There was a need for Midwives around the country, so Ruth went to St Vincent in 1946 to do the six-month course to become a midwife. There were four students in training on the Maternity Ward. One of the requirements was that each student had to deliver 10 babies then take an exam to complete the course. After delivering only six babies,
she was allowed to take the exam and passed it.
Ruth then took the exam to do the three-year program in general nursing. She worked as a nurse for 12 years in St Vincent, first during training at the Colonial Hospital. She also worked as a District Nurse at two clinics, one at Campden Park and the other Lowmans Winward. She worked at the Colonial Hospital Kings-town rising to the esteemed position as Ward Sister.
In 1961 she applied for and was accepted for a nursing position at the Lutheran Hospital in New York. Therefore on November 18, 1961 Ruth resigned from the hospital in St Vincent. She traveled to New York, where she took up the position at the Lutheran Hospital in January 1962. Throughout her career, she worked in the Pediatric and Maternity departments She said she enjoyed working in New York. However, she never took a second job as many of her friends did, she did not accumulate a lot of material possessions, she never bought a house nor a car. Her ultimate goal was always to return to Union Island. She recalls some very in-teresting stories while living in New York.
One night on her way home from work a man tried to rob her, she used her um-brella and broke his arm. Ironically, he went to the Emergency Room of the same hospital where she worked to get medical attention. Ruth learned about this and was extremely amused.
On another occasion she encountered a man who tried to steal her handbag. She tried to ward him off by hitting him with her walking stick. He fell in the snow and was pleading for mercy while returning the purse. It was then she said “it’s okay take the purse,” knowing that she had her keys and wallet in her pocket.
“Ruth retired in 1985. Around that time, she received a love letter from Augustus King Mitchell stating that he was once again free and single and wanted to know if she was interested in renewing their past relationship.
In her youth, King and Ruth were in love with each other. He wanted to marry her but circumstances prevented them from getting married. On receiving King’s letter, Ruth was more than thrilled and decided to renew their old relationship. She returned to Union Island, they got married, and lived together for more than 30 years.
King Mitchell was a businessman who owned several boats and ships, hotels and a hardware store. He died on April 26, 2014 at the age of 100.
Ruth attributes her long life to her belief in God. She is a faithful member of St. Mathias Anglican Church in Ashton and still sings in the choir from time to time.