On Saturday, July 14th we lost a beloved member of the Schenker/Protas family. Aunt Ruthie, or Ruth Protas, lived a full life and had a profound impact on my husband David. She was married to David’s Uncle from his Mother’s side (Uncle Davey). Just last year her kids threw a party for her 100th birthday where she celebrated her life with clarity, and told funny jokes. Aunt Ruthie was a petite woman who was just a few inches over 4 feet tall but that was the only thing small about her. Her life wasn’t without its tragedies: sadly, her father was killed in their home during the Bolshevik revolution which prompted the family’s emigration to the U.S. in 1920, in the 1970’s her beloved husband passed away, and in the early 1990’s she completely lost her failing sight due to macular degeneration. Yet despite all of these events in her life, she remained an optimistic, funny and strong woman with an unwavering conviction to live life to the fullest.
Something I always admired was that she recognized everyone by their voice. Regrettably, I didn’t see Aunt Ruthie very often; she was at our wedding 22 years ago and it wasn’t until Adele’s (my mother-in-law) funeral about 5 years ago that I saw her again, yet Aunt Ruthie knew and remembered my voice. Needless to say, I was very touched and impressed.
One way Aunt Ruthie remained independent when it came time to select her outfits was to invent her own color coding system. To easily identify the colors, she added beads to safety pins and kept them in the pockets.
And at the age of 94 she raised over $3,000 by participating in a walk to benefit the Southern Arizona Race for the Cure. How did she train? After mapping it out, she walked laps on her balcony – 150 laps to be exact, which measured 11 laps more than a mile.
She had such notoriety that the Arizona Jewish Post wrote a wonderful article about her life and independence back in 2006. She was an incredible woman who touched many lives.
I found the perfect aperitif from a local winery/restaurant to celebrate Aunt Ruthie’s life. In her honor, I offer a toast of Late Bottled Vintage Port (from Creekside Cellars in Evergreen, Colorado). The back label fittingly reads in part: ….a rich, full-bodied port that invites a celebration of life.…blends well with mellow evenings and good friends. Cheers to Aunt Ruthie’s incredible legacy! She will always remain in our hearts and memories. Aunt Ruthie is survived by her two sons, Steve and Art as well as numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and family. We will miss her!
With fond admiration and love,
Melissa & David
Eat well and share the love!