One of the best friends of my family, and one of the most fundamentally decent human beings I have ever known, Ruth Westlake, died last night of a massive heart attack. She died in the ambulance en route to the hospital, while my father and her sister were in a separate vehicle racing to meet her there.
She worked her entire life for Bethany College, was always kind, an animal lover, had a great sense of humor, and was a dear friend to those close to her. In the spring and summer, every night, my father and Russell (our Jack Russell terrier) would go to Ruth’s house, where a group of people would congregate with their dogs and drink coffee and talk until it got too dark to see. When my parents went on vacation, I would fill in, and over the past few years I got to know and respect her.
I, like my family, her family, and her friends- who, in essence, were a second family, am devastated. I think I am going to cry.
I’m so sorry, John. My condolences.
You deserve, among other things, a break from blogging if you want it.
I’m so sorry.
My sincere condolences.
Sorry to learn of your loss, John.
Deepest sympathy, John.
Losing a close friend is always awful. There’s something particularly awful about losing someone you’ve known and loved for a long time. It’s like they’ve become custodians/ guardians of our lives, and when they leave, they take a huge piece of us with them.
I went through two deaths in my family and another of a friend within a few months early last year…my thoughts and prayers are with you John. She sounds like someone who lived the hell out of life, I can understand how such a person’s passing can affect you.
Thanks. It just sucks.
John, I’m new to your blog, but your story of Ruth makes me want to give you a big hug. I think all of us, once we reach our thirties, have been torn and put back together by pain. Ruth sounds like a real wonderful woman and I trust she left you with lots of love and wisdom that will sustain you as you encounter her again and again in daily life.
I also am very sorry for your loss. I’m very angry with death, myself, these days. I try to draw all the usual lessons one is supposed to, about using it to value each day more and to value and try to express to others how much they mean, and so on, but actually it still just hurts like a burning agonizing hole in the heart.
So: I’m sorry for you, too, having to feel whatever it’s like for you.
For more than 20 years, Ms. Westlake a journalist, last serving as managing editor of the Martins Ferry Times-Leader. She was a tough editor, a great journalist and a caring person.
She’s been a part of my career from the day I served as an intern and reporter for her. I take pieces of what she taught me 35 years into the field ago every day. She’ll be missed but never forgotten.
Fritz Neumann Guthrie
To all Friends of Ruth,
What a woman she was!
I first met Ruth while I was a student at her beloved Bethany College and was interning at the Wheeling News Register – the ‘competing newspaper’ across the Ohio River from the Martins Ferry Times Leader. We shared many stories and she was always the first to send congratulations on a story well done. And, I was always on the phone asking for yet another piece of advice.
I learned much from her, including the ability to find, grasp and then effectively write a good story. Collecting facts, creating a memorable story, and not stepping on any toes along the way were great insights that Ruth shared with me.
As a Wheeling native, transplanted to Texas, on most trips ‘home,’ I would wind my way to Bethany to get a few minutes to share with her. She did indeed make a very lasting impression on my life.
Like you John, I feel great sadness in our loss of such a wonderful human being.
I did not know any of her family, but please share my condolences with them. And, let them know that she’ll live in the hearts of many of us forever!!!!
My best to you and your family.
Ruth Westlake is, and was, (how hard it is to refer to her in the past tense!)a tremendous mentor and, most of all, an incredible friend. I have learned so much from Ruth over the years — first, in her Copy Editing and Layout class at Bethany many years ago, while she was still managing editor of the T-L; then, during my senior year, when she accepted the Bethany public relations position; and, finally, as a colleague and friend for the past 28 years. My years at the Wheeling News-Register have been enlightened, informed and inspired by Ruth, professionally and personally. She was the consummate journalist, a gifted writer and an insightful editor. She is, and was, the best. All of our lives have been enriched by her wisdom and her wit, her laughter and her love.
I’m going to bend one of Ruth Westlake’s editorial rules and use superlatives, because…well, because they’re justified. Ruth had the best skills of anyone I’ve ever known. She was the most generous with sharing them and was the most patient with some of the least promising students and interns. (And believe me I know what I’m talking about on the latter point.) I have some experience under my belt and can claim some degree of success, but I will always feel less than competent when compared to Ruth. God bless her. And anyone who calls her the “penultimate” editor, journalist or teacher, shouldn’t be surprised if an apparition bearing a red pen appears one dark night at your door.