An Audacious Intrepid Bulldog for the Underdog
In my mid-twenties as a news reporter at the NC Legislature, I enjoyed watching one of my local legislators, a woman about 20 years older than me, with progressive views, a good sense of humor, and deep husky voice.
I was in the press section on the day that she, Ruth Cook, stood to speak on a bill that she considered represssive. In that distinctive voice, she began: "I was born in Nazi Germany…" All heads turned. Quiet fell on the usually buzzing House as she explained why it's a bad idea to limit people's rights and dictate their philosophy.
This morning I attended her funeral at Temple Beth Or in Raleigh. The place was jam-packed, so many people there whom I knew from those days, formerly forty-somethngs, now eighty-somethings.
The first of the eulogizers, Collins Kilburn, started off with a string of adjectives describing Ruth: she had chutts-pah, mispronounced this retired Protestant minister. She had audacity. She was a bulldog, he said, for the underdog.
She also enjoyed life full tilt. I remembered as I sat in the pew the night that she and I and few others decided to go to a local evening haunt of legislators at the time. The Merry Monk, a bar at the top of a hotel, was closing for good that night. They were clearing out the stock and throwing a party by offering 50-cent drinks. Our merry band shut the place down, having an unsubdued good time until there was nothing left but creme de menthe.
Her background may well have taught her to savor life and to fearlessly take on any opponent. Relatives she was staying with as a child in Germany were taken away by the Nazis, leaving her alone, at the age of ten. She was rescued and taken out of the country in the famous English evacuation of Jewish children, called Kindertransport. It was five years before she was reunited with her parents.
Bits of her story were in this morning's paper. Other bits were told at the service that was also a sort of a reunion for those gathered. So stirring and inspiring!
I was glad I knew her. She was a bold and zesty woman.
Categories: inspiring example