Ruth, circa 1940
Ruth Cratin, born during 1918 and raised in Ceredo, WV, was the third child of William Grover Rothgeb and Nannie Mariedth (Sayre). Spinal meningitis claimed sister Ella Mae at 13 months old. Her father is counted among the 675,000 people in the US alone who died from the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918; Ruth was three weeks old then. Sister Wilma Lee, Ruth & Nannie held a close bound throughout their lives. Wilma (Rothgeb) Strohmeyer rests alongside her husband, Edwin Earl Strohmeyer, at nearby Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington, WV. Everyone else is buried here at Crescent Hill Cemetery.
Ruth, at age 22, married Garland Odell Wellman of Kenova, WV, on Christmas Day, 1940 in Danville, Virginia. Their path in life soon lead away from the Ceredo/Kenova area, and within 12 years they settled at the Texas gulf coast. They lived their remaining lives there. Each died in 2003 being age 84. They divorced in 1975 nearing 35 years of marriage. Children born to Odell and Ruth were Patricia Ann, Linda Jean, and James Allen. Ruth married John Roger Cratin, Jr. in 1983; their blended family included Roger’s sons Roger and David. Their mutual love and companionship flourished, for over 17 years, until Roger’s death in 2000.
Ruth was admitted to “The Cradle Roll Department” of the Methodist-Episcopal Sunday School on March 23rd, 1919. Faith was a constant companion and surely a source of strength.
Ruth graduated Magna Cum Laude with Degree of Bachelor of Arts from the Teachers College of Marshall College (now Marshall University) on June 4, 1940. She enjoyed her studies; even later in life. At age 52 she received acclamations having been named to the President’s List while attending a local community college.
Ten scholastically outstanding women in the junior class at Marshall College competed for the title of Alma Mater. The nominees were judged by a panel of faculty members upon their scholarship, citizenship, voice, diction, carriage, poise and general appearance. Three of the group was selected by the panel and from which the junior class choose Ruth Rothgeb to be Alma Mater.
Elected by the students, Ruth was crowned Prom Queen in her senior year.
She fondly recalled teaching mathematics and English to “high school” students.
Active too was she in her children’s interests – Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Rainbow for Girls, Parent and Teachers Association, and the like. Civic pursuits included Rotarians, League of Women Voters, the Methodist and later the Presbyterian faith. A sociable person, she enjoyed playing Bridge and entertaining and cooking (especially chocolate meringue pie). She had a “green thumb”; often recognize for the beautiful gardening and floral arranging. Fifteen years since her death Amaryllis bulbs she nurtured continue to bloom! Never to be idle, certain crafts drew her attention especially decoupage and ikebana. And never afraid to try out a new skill and never mind her slight frame, she hung wallpaper, painted interiors, repaired appliances, laid flooring …
After raising the children, she even became an entrepreneur. She opened a women’s dress boutique. Her keen eye for fashion (having been a seamstress), her extrovert personality, her boundless energy, her pleasant demeanor and intelligence was a perfect combination ensuring success. For over 20 years she enjoyed most of the daily challenges that came with the endeavor. Daughter Patty, who had a passion for bookkeeping and shopping for inventory, provided vital assistance.
Devotion to family at all times took ‘front seat’; their well-being always was paramount. She nurtured and treasured her extended family too, even though 1200 miles away for over 50 years of her life. Her parents, Grover and Nannie, named her after Ruth of the Bible. Nannie told she raised her to be that sort of person – pure, sweet and rising to an unselfish devotion and love. Among her last wishes she desired to traverse that span and be returned to her homeland. Her body now rests among her parents, her dear step-father, and all her maternal aunts and uncle and grandparents with which she grew up. At the base of Crescent Hill Cemetery was her childhood home. She recalled her and her sister and cousins regularly pushing a lawn mower up “that hill” to be able to care for the family plot.
Ruth had good fortune to travel the world. Though she frequently returned with some souvenir, mostly she brought home new insights and fresh perspectives thereby enriching her daily life.
World Events: The Great War would end a month after her birth, the Great Depression would begin when she was 10, and World War II would begin before she was 21 years old. The Civil Rights Movement began at age 36, and at age 40 the 15-year war of Vietnam began. President Kennedy was assassinated at age 45 and the first person to land on the Moon occurred at age 50. The HIV/AIDS Epidemic began in 1980 when she was 61; her son, James, contracted the deadly scourge yet at a time when medical advancements showed great success in controlling the pathogen. The world was at war at the end and at the beginning of her life. The War on Terror began 2 years before her death and has lasted well beyond death in 2003.
Explore the site to see family photos, to visualize ancestry trans-Atlantic crossings, and to link to the expanded genealogical record.
Story-teller James A Rothgeb, Son