Community Greens

People of color, culture, health & fitness

Ruth A. Vasser: After the Comma

commaNever place a period where God has placed a comma. – Gracie Allen

Ruth A, Jones was born June 28, 1921 to Robert Jones and Cornelia Waters at the Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital on Fifth Avenue and 106th St. She was the first of two children. Her younger brother was named Robert and has predeceased her. Her mother, Cornelia, was one of three sisters from Baltimore that settled in New York in the early part of the 20th century. As a child, she was nicknamed “Babe Ruth”, not because of the baseball player or the candy bar, but because she was named after her mother’s oldest sister, her Aunt Ruth. Cornelia moved into Harlem as her sisters settled on Long Island. She spent her early years in Harlem in the 159st and St Nicholas area. One of her proudest achievements was her graduation from Wadleigh High School. He mother, who had worked her entire life as a housekeeper and cook was determined that Ruth would not become a domestic and worked even harder than she had to so Ruth could finish school. Ruth completed HS in 1939 and was always proud of her diploma and Penmanship Graduation Award.

Ruth was able to secure a position in the garment industry as an office worker. For a Colored woman, that was almost unheard of at the time and she eventually became assistant to the chief buyer. She loved to tell stories about how, when they were pregnant at the same time, there was a real competition to see who would wear the most stylish outfit. That was hard work in those days as everything from hat to shoes to belt to gloves to handbag had to complete the ensemble. Ruth loved dancing and the Savoy Ballroom was one of her favorite places.

She eventually worked for the Social Security Administration as a Case Examiner.  She enjoyed resolving problems with Social Security claims ensuring people received the benefits to which they were entitled. She retired when she was 67. Even in retirement she was active and for many years was a docent for the Wildlife Conservation Society. For years, once a week she would meet and greet school and other tour groups and show them the wonders of the Bronx Zoo.

Ruth is survived by 3 sons, Ronald, Charles and Robert, 5 grandchildren, Valdesa, Charles, Imani, Akela and Iyanla and great grandson Kai Aiden. Her oldest child, Barbara, passed away in 2006. Ruth raised her children in the Morrisania section in the Bronx after she moved there from Harlem in the early 50’s. She raised her children as a working single parent with the support of her mother until Cornelia passed in 1966. She was pleased that all of her children were HS graduates and that 3 of her children completed college, which was a dream she always had for them.

Conversations Overdue

Filed under: Community Green, It Takes A Village, ,

2 Responses

  1. czvasser says:

    When I wrote about my mother back in March, we knew she was slipping away. I had the conversation I wanted and got some of the answers I needed. I believe she gave enough and I got enough to feel comfortable with what was to come. Funny, the Eulogist used the Gracie Allen quote about death being God’s comma. You can imagine the cord it struck in me.


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