Ruby Irene Graham Muto was a study in contrasts.
She died peacefully at age 99 among family members on December 25, 2020, having outlived even her own expectations for someone who easily could have been knocked over by the wind at the beach in Ocean City, MD, where she vacationed for decades.
By all appearances, Ruby was a traditional wife, mother and grandmother -- encouraging her children, doting on her grandchildren. She was one of the most kind, gentle people you could meet. But she was also extremely determined, and not afraid to go against the norms of the day.
After graduating from Strang High School in Oklahoma where she was the valedictorian of her class, she decided to strike out on her own. At 21 and with her father’s support, she took a train to Washington, DC, to work in the secretarial pool at the FBI.
A few years later, Ruby went on a blind date roller skating with William “Bill” Muto, who was on Navy shore leave. They married in 1946, and moved to Morgantown, WV, where Ruby began leaving her firmly supportive, yet caring imprint on her family and in her community. She supported Bill and his career through moves to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois and Louisiana before ultimately calling Wilmington, DE, home.
Always ahead of her time, she encouraged her children and grandchildren to pursue their dreams regardless of whether or not those goals conformed to stereotypes or social norms. And she was quick to encourage success, no matter how small. She modeled public service with her children, serving with Meals on Wheels, providing adult literacy training, and volunteering with the Girl Scouts and Parent-Teachers Association.
Ruby developed a longing to see the world beyond the small rural towns in the Midwest where she was raised. She and Bill traveled across the United States and into Mexico on annual summer vacations as the kids grew up. Once left with an empty nest, Ruby and Bill enjoyed travel to Canada, China, Russia, Australia, Africa, and throughout Europe.
An indelibly positive person, Ruby also had the patience of a saint, especially raising kids while her husband frequently traveled as an engineer with the DuPont company. Always private and reserved, she points to her family as her greatest accomplishment in life. In addition to her family, she cherished birds, flowers, her doll collection, and chocolate. Unbeknownst to many, like her father she was a poet.
She demonstrated incredible independence and resourcefulness, particularly after her husband Bill passed away in 1993. Her experience as a Girl Scout leader likely saved her life in 2007 when -- at age 86 -- she fell into a ravine behind her home and subsisted on dew from leaves until she was rescued three days later. “I know I’m not going to hell,” she said after the incident, “because I was just there and they threw me back.” Her many strengths will remain an inspiration to all who had the privilege of knowing her.
Ruby Irene Graham was born Nov. 25, 1921, in Burke, SD.
She is survived by her five children: Malcolm, Richard, David (Kris), Terry, and Jan (Jay Fiene); five grandchildren: Laura Larsen (Bjorn), Will, Kevin (Cindy Chen), Anna Alinda (Charity), and Andrew and, five great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her brother, three sisters, husband and daughter-in-law.
Ruby will forever be remembered for her modesty, humility, faith, thoughtfulness and caring for others. She was very deeply loved and will be missed by all.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests charitable donations be made in her name.
Funeral services will be held privately.
To offer condolences, visit www.dohertyfh.com.
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