Ruby Middleton Forsythe
Born: June 27, 1905
Died: May 29, 1992.
The waiting list is long at the one room Holy Cross-Faith Memorial Episcopal School, where Ruby Middleton Forsythe teaches on Pawley's Island, South Carolina. Her school has 72 children, pre-school through fourth grade. She teaches discipline, respect, social responsibility, and the basics: reading, mathematics, spelling, and geography. Ms. Ruby's students often enter school with an educational disadvantage. But, she instills in each of them that they can achieve. She insists that they never say, "I can't," but always, "I'll Try."
Ruby Middleton-Forsythe was born in Charleston, S.C. She attended Avery Institute for grammar and high school. Avery epitomized excellence and provided its students with the best liberal education and cultural experience. She received her BS from South Carolina State College and started her teaching career in 1924.
She became a teacher at Holy Cross Memorial School in 1931. Her husband, the late Reverend William Essex Forsythe, was an Episcopal Priest who was in charge of Holy Cross-Faith Memorial Church and School on Pawley's Island. At age 85, Ruby Forsythe walks down the stairs from her living quarters above the school and begins another day of quality teaching and basic training. When she rings her brass school bell it is time for students to enter school and for the cultivation of each mind to commence. Ms. Ruby nurtures as well as teaches. She continues to teach because there is a need for children to learn. Her philosophy of teaching is: "I like the idea of sowing the best seed into whatever soil we come in contact with. Watch the growth and the reproduction of the product sent forth."
Miss Ruby taught in the one room school for 53 years. The school came to be known as “Miss Ruby’s School”…When it closed in June 2000, it was the oldest one room school in the United States!
During her lifetime, Miss Ruby earned four honorary degrees: from South Carolina State College, Winthrop College, The University of South Carolina at Sewanee, and the University of South Carolina at Coastal Carolina.
Ruby Middleton Forsythe died in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina on May 29, 1992, on graduation day. During her 70 plus years of teaching she had only missed 5 months, when she was pregnant with her son.
“Not one newspaper nor TV news showed…people – black and white – arms around each other, with tears singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” following Miss Ruby to her final resting place. You could feel the love. She has brought us all together – How powerful! What a statement! And the coverage missed it – every one of them!” ---- Nives Kelly, Pawleys Island resident
The Rice Museum in Georgetown, S.C. features an impressive exhibit on the life and works of Miss Ruby, including her school bell, photos and videos.
I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America
Edited by Barbara Summers
Photos and Interviews by Brian Lanker
Copyright 1989, Workman Publishing
“A people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots.” - Marcus Garvey