No driving this Miss Daisy: Ruth Jurjevich, a remarkable 99 year old lady
July 9, 2012, By Rebecca Johnson, Walking into Ruth Jurjevich’s home, I immediately felt comfortable. It was warm and inviting, and her many interests in life came shining through. Ruth is a lover of books and art.
Born Feb. 24th 1913, Ruth grew up in Chestnut, IL. Her parents were Scandinavian, having first migrated to Clinton, Il. She grew up on a farm, attending a country grade school, then Chestnut High School.
After graduation, Ruth went to Lincoln College to earn her teaching degree. She taught third and fourth grades at Chestnut grade school for ten years, then LDC for twenty-eight years.
After retirement, Ruth volunteered in the Lincoln grade schools for over twenty years, teaching children art. She said she would make up stories to go with the step-by-step animal drawings she taught the children, using different letters of the alphabet. Out of P’s and C’s and so on, the children learned to draw dogs, cats, rabbits, monarch butterflies, etc.
Ruth has boxes and boxes of animal drawings she has created over the years. In her living room, she has framed pictures of her drawings. Beautiful hand-sketched drawings, each one telling its own story. Ruth’s daughter, Kathy, who lives in Las Vegas, has received many of her mother’s works of art through hand-made note cards. She has saved every one, and as a Christmas present, Kathy gave her mother a shirt with all the animal designs transposed on it. It is a wonderful remembrance of her works.
Over the years, Ruth has given many friends her hand-drawn note cards, and I shall always treasure the one she gave to me. Along with art, Ruth has a deep love for books. She is now reading, ‘India and Southeast Asia’. With her many interests, Ruth’s living room is filled with books on a variety of subjects. Railroads, cats, dogs, birds of prey, Ruth reads in the mornings and evenings. She starts off with two newspapers.
Ruth tells me she has excellent eye sight, and at ninety-nine, she is very grateful. And even more remarkable, Ruth has recently passed her driving test and doesn’t have to take another one for two years. She still drives to Springfield and Forsyth, and will continue for as long as she is able.
She looks two decades younger than her age and says she is in good health, which is obvious, eating salmon, nuts, and vegetables but no fried foods. She has no pain, and no complaints. She fixes all her own meals, and is as busy as she wants be. She enjoys Jolly Seniors at Lincoln Christian Church, and eating out once a week with friends.
Ruth was married to Steve Jurjevich for over fifty-three years and lived on 10th Street in Lincoln. He died in 1983. For the past fifteen years, Ruth has resided at the Christian Homes apartments. It was such a joy for me to get to know Ruth. She has a real appreciation for life. This is only a small part of her life story.
As I was getting ready to leave, Ruth asked me if I ever witnessed a miracle. I said yes, and asked about hers. She said it was a miracle of nature. She was walking into Friendship Manor for her hair appointment, and a robin came flying down right in front of her. She stopped and watched the robin for a moment as it took off. When she looked down to where it was, there was a tiny blue egg sitting on the sidewalk. “A miracle,” she said. “I got to witness a miracle that day.”