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Obituary: Ruby Kelley Johnson

Ruby Kelley Johnson, lifelong advocate for Newtown, dies at the age of 84.

Ruby Kelley Johnson, of Sandy Hook, loving wife and mother, devoted friend and lifelong advocate for Newtown, passed away Feb. 16, 2012, at Danbury Hospital, with her family by her side.

Born in Houston, Texas on Sept. 7, 1928, Ruby spent her youth in San Antonio, Texas. An accomplished equestrienne, Ruby won the New England Championship for Jumping in Freiberg, Maine.  Ruby’s love of travel took her to Egypt, Russia, and Europe as well as a cross-country trip with the family in a Winnebago to Yellowstone.

Ruby pursued her education with the tenacity that would become her trademark. She graduated from Texas Women’s College in 1949 with a double major in English and History, and earned her Ph.D. from New York University in Linguistics in 1966. Ruby became a leader in education. She served on several boards such as the Commission of English Language, published two texts and numerous articles, and was asked to demonstrate the effectiveness of Inductive Teaching in Linguistics before the National Council of English Teachers in Washington, DC.

It was Ruby’s passion for education and the potential that she saw in every individual that guided her to serve on Newtown’s Board of Education. During her tenure, Ruby advocated for: the building of Head O’ Meadow Elementary School, the addition of dinosaur fossil tracks that once roamed Connecticut to Sandy Hook Elementary School’s courtyard, the addition of Calculus and Computer Science to the high school curriculum, and the addition of a swimming pool to Newtown High School. She was instrumental in the formation of the Newtown High School girls’ soccer team in 1983.

A staunch advocate for those with disabilities, Ruby, was instrumental in the installation of telecoil hearing loops in Newtown’s Municipal Building, Newtown Middle School and High School.  Ruby helped establish The Friends of Fairfield Hills and served as a member of the Legislative Council. A visionary who saw the wisdom in strategic planning, she was a respected voice at numerous board and committee meetings.

Ruby is survived by her husband of 45 years, Kenneth H. Johnson, daughters Kelley T. Johnson of San Jose, California and Joan D. Johnson, son-in-law Edwin Kuo, and grandson, Alex Kuo of Pleasantville, New York.

The family will receive friends and family at Honan Funeral Home, 58 Main Street, Newtown, from 3 pm to 6 pm on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012. 

Memorial services will be held at the Newtown United Methodist Church, 92 Church Hill Road, Sandy Hook, Monday, Feb. 20, 2012, at 11 am, with a reception following in the church’s lower-level meeting room.  In honor of Ruby’s public service, the memorial service will include “public participation.”  The family invites attendees to share a personal story of Ruby. 

In lieu of flowers the family requests contributions be made to the Ruby K. Johnson Memorial Scholarship, Newtown Scholarship Association Inc., PO Box 302, Newtown, CT 06470.

Donald H. Ramsey February 19, 2012 at 06:26 PM
As a Teacher in Newtown, I felt well cared for by Ruby Johnson. As a "Matriarch" figure for our town, Ruby inspired me with all the loyalty and good will that makes a community thrive. May God Bless Ruby's family... For surely they are not alone in missing this wonderful gifted person!
Kevin Fitzgerald February 19, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Inside and outside this community, Ruby is our hero. She is that large envelope that arrives at home full of marked-up articles and meeting minutes reminding you that there is more work to do on a particular community issue. She is that wink one gets from across the meeting room regardless of your politics, thanking you for getting up to speak in public. At home, Ruby is a role model just as much for my wife and I as she is for our children, and our daughter in particular. We are, Newtown is and this world is better for knowing her. I do not know what heaven is really like, but now that Ruby has arrived, I do hope its affairs are in order. Ruby we love you and we will miss you always.
Douglas Brennan February 19, 2012 at 11:05 PM
So true and very insightful. Thank you.
Douglas Brennan February 19, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Thank you Al. So great to see you and your wife and some of the many others whose lives she touched.
Shannon Hawkins February 07, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Dr. Ruby Johnson was a wonderful person. She used her strong, positive presence to do so much to help others. On the public level she used her gift to write and communicate with eloquence to advocate for those who did not have a voice. I will never forget that she fought for funding for girls’ sports. I wish I knew more about the other causes (and I’m sure there were many) to which she had devoted her time and effort. She truly used her abilities to persuade others for the betterment of us all. On a personal level, she always had a smile, inspiring words, and time to encourage a young girl who was struggling in school and teenage issues. I can still see her warm smile and hear her inspiring, witty, and thoughtful comments! What a gift it was to spend time with her! I want to go back to Maine with her and her family and listen to one of her stories. I wish I could thank her for her example, leadership, and mentoring. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for her.

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