John Ruskin once said, “A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money”. Ruth Massey is a wonderful example of the truth in this quote. Mrs. Helen (Ruth) Russell Massey was born on December 23, 1923 in the small town of Van Alstyne, TX, approximately fifteen miles east of Gunter.
The Mother Teresa of Gunter
Ruth attended Van Alstyne ISD and played basketball all four years of high school. Ruth was one of 9 children and helped out around the house with chores and other tasks as a young girl. She was a well rounded teen: achieved high grades, and enjoyed her English classes. Ruth graduated in 1941, and soon after married Herbert (Nick) Neeland Massey on October 18, 1941. They had two children: Bobby and Beverly. The two were married for 41 years until his death in August 1982 due to a rare heart condition. Nick built their farmhouse in 1949 just east of Gunter and they resided there until soon after his death. She then moved into town 2 years later. The house is still in the Massey name where Bobby, her grandson, and his family live. The couple enjoyed family vacations with their children Bob and Beverly. While living on the farm, they gardened and canned food for themselves and others. Ruth and Nick loved to help others and supported many people over the years that were in need.
Ruth had her first job at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio. Both Ruth and her husband worked together until he had to retire due to his heart condition. She then transferred to Perrin AFB coming away with nearly 20 years of civil service work. Soon after, they moved to Gunter and she took a job as a teacher aide and was the administrative assistant to the superintendent totalling 22 years of service to GISD. She was a very hardworking, dedicated woman who helped out in any way she could around the community.
Mrs. Massey was involved in many activities in Gunter such as: Community Club, Garden Club, 4H Club Leader for 50 years, Boy Scout leader, drill team sponsor, Sunday School teacher at FIrst Baptist Gunter, Fellowship Committee, VBS leader, TESA president, member of Grayson County Retired School Educators Association, collected school taxes, worked school elections, sang in church choir, and loved to work with the youth in Gunter.
When interviewing daughter in law Sharon Massey, she described Ruth as a “life loving person” and a wonderful influence on her due to Ruth being a “role model for [her] by living the life that she did”. She treated everyone just as she would her own children. Ruth loved God and one of her favorite memories was her trip to the Holy Land in 1983. Church played a major role in Ruth’s life and she participated in many church activities. Ruth had a best friend named jackie Barrett Hold, whom she had coffee with every Sunday afternoon. She always had a positive attitude and helped others whenever possible. One of Ruth’s favorite things about Gunter was the school system. She loved working with the staff and children in Gunter ISD. She was a “huge fan of anything Gunter”. When asking people about Mrs. Massey, only kind comments were made. Dawn Arrington described her as a “sweet loving person”. She was known for her generosity and kindness towards anyone in the community.
Because of her great personality, we are reminded of some great memories of Ruth. Below are some of the memories from Sharon Massey: “I have so many memories of her that I’m not sure where to begin. For many years, Ruth, her daughter, Beverly Millar, and myself would go out shopping on Christmas Eve just to spend time together. She would buy us a Christmas sweater to wear. Then we would come home to cook dinner and open Christmas gifts, and spend time with the rest of the family. One Christmas Eve, she and I were out shopping and there was snow everywhere. We got stuck and had to be rescued by our husbands. She and I won first and second place in a skeet shoot once. My husband, (her son -Bob), and I spent many nights at their house playing dominoes. Her family, (children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) were her whole world. The last 2 years of her life, I got to spend a lot of time with her listening to her family stories from childhood. She was one of the nicest, loving ladies I have ever had the privilege to know. I am so glad I got to share her life as family.”
As a young teenager growing up in Gunter, TX, I am inspired by people like Ruth Massey. Her contributions toward the community, positive attitude, kind and servant heart will never be forgotten. Ruth Massey left a legacy in Gunter of only good qualities. It is our job as a younger generation to respect her and strive to be leaders like Mrs. Massey.
Authors: Baylee McEwen and Lauren Baird
Thank you to Dawn Arrington, Sharon Massey, Stacy Hunsaker, and Beverly Millar for helping with information about Mrs. Ruth Massey.
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