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Part Eight Leaving UNO

In the midst of World War II, many of Ruth’s students and colleagues were leaving to enlist or volunteer for the war effort. At the age of 31, Ruth left UNO as well to answer her country’s call to service as a Red Cross overseas volunteer (Pollak and Valentine 45). She acted as Assistant Program Director at a Red Cross recreation club in Bournemouth, England, greeting and welcoming soldiers upon their arrival and supervising recreational activities (Mooney). To learn more about Ruth’s service as a Red Cross volunteer during WWII and the history of her G.I. Josephine outfit see the Nebraska State Historical Society article “G.I. Josephine”.

Although proud to serve her country, Ruth felt homesick during her time abroad and often wrote home to her students; her letters were frequently reprinted in the UNO Gateway feature titled The War and You. Ruth writes:

My work grows each day and we run something that looks like a three ring circus all the time. Sports, dances, concerts, movies, tours, and many special events are planned. On Washington’s birthday a banquet was held and when four of the men, with two taking the part of women, did a take-off on the minuet, I felt a bit homesick for dancing classes at school. (“Teacher Writes”)

Ruth held her last UNO performance on April 26, 1942 at the Joslyn Memorial before her departure to England (Wittman 51). The program was titled Religion in Democracy: An Interpretation of Three Religions. Because of the contemporary nature of the themes used in dance performances organized by Ruth, community response was often widely varied. In response to an invitation to the religious show, for example, a Catholic Priest replied in writing that he was “delighted and pleased at the performance” (qtd. in Wittman 51), while a Lutheran Pastor responded to the same invitation with the following refusal to attend because of the intended theme: “I am not interested in Dance Concerts… I find no place in God’s holy word where the people arranged some worldly entertainment to cheer them, when they were in trouble (qtd. Wittman 52). Although Ruth was not successful in bringing everyone around to modern dance, she was successful with a large number in the Omaha community and the Midwest.

 

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Part Nine Administrative Roles, Awards, and Honors

Ruth held a number of administrative roles and positions during her years at UNO and after her return from World War II. Ruth served as Member-at-Large of the National Legislative Board of the Dance Section of the American Association for Health and Physical Education in 1937 and State Representative to the National Section of Women’s Athletics in 1949. She participated in the Central District Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation as well as in the national association. For the Central District Association, she served as Section Chairman of Women’s Athletics 19341935 and as Section Chairman of Dancing 19351936. She was active in the Nebraska Physical Education Association, serving as president 19371939 and as President of the Central Association of Physical Education for College Women in 1938 (54-55). These positions often allowed Ruth to secure performing opportunities for her students,