Saturday, December 12, 2009

"No One Would Want to Hear About Me..." - Ardis Cynthia Hutchens Waddoups Ruffell

When asked by her daughter why she never wrote a personal history or journal, Ardis answered, "No one would want to hear about me..." With forty-seven descendants and counting, how wrong she was!
Ardis Cynthia Hutchens was born almost at the turn of the century - 20 Oct 1899 in Ogden, Weber County, Utah, to Joseph Arthur Hutchens and Mary Lucina Fife. She was big sister to two brothers, Arthur (1901) and Joseph William (1908). No real letters or diaries were found for her, but we know a lot about her from her daughter. Ardis was a talented seamstress and enjoyed embroidery and lace crochet. Some of her beautiful pieces have survived and been preserved. As a young woman, Ardis was trained as a millner (hat designer) and had an opportunity to study in France, which she turned down to stay with her family. She made her own graduation dress at the age of 15.

In 1920 Ardis married a young veteran of the First World War from the next
county over, Omer Waddoups. One year and sixteen days later they welcomed their only daughter into the world, Mary. Omer worked on his father's farm and Ardis kept house until tragedy struck like lightning. Off on a fall hunting trip with friends, Omer was accidentally shot with his own gun and Ardis found herself a widow with an eight month-old baby. (See "Corporal Waddoups, World War I Veteran" blog entry 6 Sep 2009.) Family sources say that Ardis was never satisfied that Omer's death was truly an accident. Ardis went home to live with her parents in Ogden, Utah, to raise her daughter.

In 1928 Ardis married a second time to New Zealand immigrant, Heber Thomas Ruffell. Heber's sisters did not approve of his match with a woman who was already "burdened" with a child, but Heber paid them no mind. He was a wonderful father to eight year-old Mary, and a year later they enjoyed a daughter of their own, Edith. Edith remembers her mother as a patient woman. She rarely raised her voice and found humor in stressful situations. Stressful situations did not cease to come though. Ardis' youngest daughter had some medical difficulties and it was recommended that the girl live in a warmer climate. Uprooting the family was difficult, so they settled on having Ardis and Edith live in Arizona for a time while Mary and her new husband move in with Heber. It was early in 1941, and Mary kept house for her father and husband while Ardis was away. Soon, though, Mary was expecting and Ardis and Edith came back to await the first grandchild. Mary didn't make it. In November of 1941, Mary was delivered of her first son, but due to what is now considered medical malpractice, the doctor's mistakes ended Mary's young life. Ardis and her family had to take things in stride. Mary's husband died one year later, and due to the age of the paternal grandmother, Ardis and Heber took on the care of their much loved grandson. He knew them as "Mom" and "Dad" and the family was very close. Eventually the family moved to California - land of sunshine and opportunity. Ardis lived to see six of her great-grandchildren before her death in 1977. Those great-grandchildren remembered trips to Disneyland, rides on Grandma's wheelchair, and most of all, knowing that they were always welcome and loved. Each of Ardis' descendants long to hear more about a woman who kept a family together, in love and through loss.