Jackson County recently mourned the loss of another special member of our community. Mike Norris expressed it well when he wrote on social media: “Dear Jackson County friends, Ruth Wilson, longtime Jackson County resident and widow of Jess Wilson, has passed away at age 100. During their long and remarkable marriage, Jess (RECC star employee, writer, inventor, scout master, dance caller—you name it) got most of the headlines, but without Ruth, there couldn’t have been a Jess. Supportive, gracious, and wise, Ruth provided the grounding that allowed Jess to mount his horse with gusto and ride off in all directions. Ruth was a beloved teacher, mother to three daughters, and surrogate mother to many who might not have made it without her steady nurturance. Ruth and Jess were a golden combination. Through countless acts of kindness and generosity, and by their example of life lived with zest, curiosity, compassion, and creativity, they made our state, and the world, a better place. I like to picture them together now in joyful reunion.”
Ruth H. Wilson, April 24, 1919 to June 19, 2019, was born in Wakarusa, Indiana, the third of five children of Elmer and Emma Nettrouer Hygema. In 1938, she graduated from Batavia High School in Cincinnati, then went south for college at Eastern State Teacher’s College where she met and married Jess D. Wilson. After a break to raise children, she resumed her education at Berea College, graduating in 1963, and later, receiving an M.A, at University of Kentucky in 1970. She was a dedicated educator and completed her career as a reading specialist for the Jackson County Schools where each school under her supervision showed improvement in scores. Ruth also believed in good health practices, exercise, and Vitamin C. In 1981, she and Jess retired to a Clay County farm, Possum Trot, which became, with the help and labor of many friends, a loved camp and retreat representing the best of local history and culture. After 73 years of marriage, Jess proceeded her in death. There are few people that make such an impact on their community. Both Ruth and Jess will live on in the minds and hearts of all those that knew them.