Photo by Frank Prager
Ruth Rawson, 88, still takes care of the horses on her farm. Rawson has lived on her 80-acre farm north of Alton since she and her husband moved there 56 years ago.
When asked how she stays so remarkably active at the age of 88, Ruth Rawson simply replies, “You have to stay interested in something.”
Rawson’s interests keep her very busy, indeed. Her activities include scouting, camping, horseback riding and mowing her own lawn.
Born and raised in Alton, Rawson graduated from Alton High School in 1944. She graduated from Alton Memorial School of Nursing in 1948 and worked as a nurse over the years while raising her family. She has lived on her 80-acre farm north of Alton since she and her husband moved there 56 years ago. They were married 51 years before his passing. She has three grown children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Rawson’s activities in scouting programs over the years have consisted of a wide variety of contributions. She was Den Mother for her sons’ scout troops for nine years. She then led her daughter’s Girl Scout troop and more recently has served as leader for her granddaughter’s troop.
She started as leader of her daughter’s Brownie group at Fosterburg School more than 50 years ago and led the Girl Scout troop until they graduated from high school. She conducted weekly meetings, coordinated Girl Scout cookie sales and also took the girls to day camp every summer. One year, Rawson took the troop all the way to Girl Scout Center West in Ten Sleep, Wyo., where they camped and participated in other activities. They also toured sites such as Mount Rushmore on their way back across the country.
When her granddaughter started in Girl Scouts 16 years ago, Rawson volunteered and eventually became leader of the troop. As the girls moved into the Mariners in the seventh grade, Rawson continued as leader. Mariners is a program for older girls and focuses on water-based activities. Rawson coordinates meetings and takes the group on campouts to Camp Butterfly and Camp Tuckaho in Missouri every year.
Rawson attended the Girl Scouts’ Hundredth Anniversary in Savannah, Ga., last year with her daughter and granddaughter. There, she was presented with the Thanks Badge, the second-highest achievement a volunteer can receive in the scouting program.
She has always loved the outdoors. Her family raised horses on their farm and when her daughter became interested in them, they became very active in showing them and participating in barrel-riding and pole-bending events. They traveled to many area riding events. Rawson still feeds and cleans the two horses she has on her farm and maintains the fences for them.
Rawson swims three times each week to keep fit and mows her own lawn. She is active in the Zion Evangelic Presbyterian Church in Fosterburg. She learned to play the organ in her seventies and plays occasionally at church. She also has participated in B.O.W. (Becoming an Outdoors Woman) for the past 16 years. The program is held at Pere Marquette State Park and allows women to take classes in areas of interest such as archery, shooting, crafts and self-defense.
More active than most people half her age, Rawson’s remarkable list of accomplishments and interests are the hallmark of an energetic, interesting life. Anyone looking for a way to stay engaged and relevant into their senior years need only take a look at how Ruth Rawson continues to live her very active life.