It’s fitting that I first met Ruby Hopkin through recipes.
After I moved back to Powell in 2008, Ruby would send recipes to me for publication in the Tribune. Her emails were always friendly and sweet, and we soon formed a friendship.
Every so often — and especially at Christmastime — Ruby would surprise us at the Tribune with a plate of cookies, a pie or other treats. Of course, everything was always homemade and delicious.
So many of us in the Powell community appreciated Ruby’s cooking and baking, whether by trying out one of her favorite recipes clipped from the Tribune or enjoying a home-cooked meal prepared by Ruby herself.
Ruby continued blessing others with her recipes up until the very end — on the day before she died, she hosted a meal for friends at her home.
At her funeral service last month, Ruby’s children shared stories about her beautiful life and how she went out of her way to serve people.
My favorite story was about the time one of her friends came home to find a fresh-baked loaf of banana bread on her kitchen counter. The friend was relieved that she had done the dishes before Ruby came over. And then she realized she hadn’t done the dishes — Ruby had seen the dirty dishes in the sink and washed them. And Ruby also happened to notice some overripe bananas on the counter, so she used them to make the banana bread.
It’s the perfect story to describe the kind of woman Ruby was.
Over the years, Ruby shared many of her stories in the pages of the Powell Tribune and also in her book, “Pieces of Pie.” She wrote about the family farm with her beloved husband Burchell and shared tidbits about what life was like over the decades — how she never talked on the phone until she was 12 years old or how she always had a clothesline and loved the fresh smell of clothes dried outdoors.
Whenever she sent a column or recipes to the Tribune, she would write me a little note, asking how things were going in my life or telling me about a recent trip. As we became friends, Ruby also sent me ecards for different holidays and my birthday. Last May, when I was eight months pregnant and about to become a mom, she sent me a Mother’s Day card and wrote what a blessing it is to be a mother.
Soon after my son Will was born in June, Ruby visited us at our home and brought a gift. She always made me feel special and cared for, signing her emails and cards: “Love, Ruby.”
What’s remarkable is that Ruby made everyone she knew feel that way — special and loved.
Several weeks ago, I saw Ruby at the movie theater. We visited for a little while, and I said I would bring the baby over for a visit. A few days later, on a frigid Tuesday afternoon, I bundled up Will, and we went over to Ruby’s house. I almost didn’t go, because of the sub-zero wind chills that day, but when Ruby welcomed me with a hug, I was immediately glad I had visited — and I was especially thankful later, as it ended up being the last time I saw her.
During her funeral, I realized that if Ruby had only focused on her own family, she would have stayed plenty busy sending out cards for birthdays and holidays, hosting family dinners and making treats for her children and grandchildren. After all, she had six children, 25 grandchildren and 56 great-grandchildren, as well as siblings, nieces and nephews.
Yet somehow, in addition to loving her own family members, Ruby also went out of her way to cook for, write to and care about so many people like me — acquaintances who became long-lasting friends.