With gracious charm and beautiful singing voice, on Sept. 10, 2017, Ruth Samson completed her life journey, leaving a rich legacy as a wife, mother, community volunteer and supportive Texas Aggie fan in the Bryan-College Station community. She was born Ruth Aileen Baumbach in Auburn, Indiana, on August 2, 1925, to Ellis and Lenora Hodge Baumbach, who preceded her in death.
She grew up in South Bend, Indiana, where she was a local beauty who captured the eye of Charles Harold Samson, Jr., an Ohio native who had transferred to South Bend, as part of the Navy’s V-2 program, where he studied civil engineering and played varsity tennis at the University of Notre Dame. She attended Indiana University as a music major for two years after graduation from Riley High School. Following an extended courtship, Ruth and Chuck married in 1947 and relocated to Columbia, Missouri, where Chuck completed his Ph.D. studies.
After receiving his doctorate, Chuck and Ruth began their Texas life together in 1951, starting in Ft. Worth, where he worked at General Dynamics. Daughter Peggy Aileen Samson was born in 1952, and the new family of three would return to South Bend for Chuck’s earliest academic assignment in the Civil Engineering Department at Notre Dame. It was there that they welcomed a son, Charles H. Samson, III, but it was not long before a growing Texas A&M University would seek Chuck out in 1960 to join the faculty as Professor in Civil and Aerospace Engineering.
Ruth kept home and hearth thriving, organizing innumerable faculty gatherings as Chuck pursued his professional career at Texas A&M. Ultimately when Chuck was chosen as Acting President of Texas A&M in July, 1980, then Ruth, as Acting First Lady of the University, she continued her outstanding abilities to make all faculty and visiting dignitaries feel welcome and part of the ever-growing Texas A&M community.
An award-winning volunteer, Ruth was both a community civic leader and patron of the arts, lending her time, gifts, and talents in many ways to give back in the Brazos Valley. As a devoted mother, Ruth was both band mother and Cub Scout mom and wherever her children were, she was joyfully present. Her dedication would continue throughout her life as she continued to attend, in later years, as many volunteer activities and community programs as her time and strength would permit.
Ruth’s natural soprano voice was often featured in local community events. She was a popular part of musicals that took place each summer at A&M’s Guion Hall. In 1969, Ruth served as talent chair for the 1969 premiere of the “Paint the Town Pink Follies” that benefited St. Joseph Hospital and continued for many years. She was a featured soloist among the cast of 180 for one of the most highly regarded fundraisers of the decade.
Because of her civic minded priorities, Ruth was determined to do all she could to support and lead local volunteer efforts. Among these, she served in leadership and membership capacities as part of the Brazos Valley Symphony Society, the Friends Association of Symphony Orchestras, Texas A&M’s MSC Opera and Performing Arts Society Guild, the Brazos Heritage Society, the Woman’s Club of Bryan, the Junior League of Bryan-College Station, Texas A&M Women’s Club, the Brazos County A&M Mother’s Club, and the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley. She also was active in the choir and many other groups, including the Wesley Foundation in recent years, of A&M United Methodist Church that the family joined upon moving to the community in 1960.
Although she sought no accolades for her contributions, Ruth had the respect of her peers such that she received distinction for her volunteering. In 2004, the Brazos Prenatal Clinic named her one of the Women of Distinction and she was honored at the “You’re the Tops” annual luncheon. Even then, she modestly smiled as all that she had done was recounted. In her mind, she was just being a good volunteer. She was also honored by the Brazos Valley Symphony Society with its Lifetime Membership award for outstanding contributions.
In her lifetime Ruth was a faithful, smiling presence wherever she went. She had a wonderful memory for people and their gifts and was a most congenial contributor to her community. It has been said that Ruth valued the following things in others: integrity, sincerity, teamwork, and personal values, including faith.
Ruth did her best to learn from everyone around her in all endeavors, valuing the skills and talents of those with whom she worked. She credited many before her as her role models and frequently expressed thanks for those who made her life so special—her husband, her devoted parents, her children, and close friends for whom she had great admiration. She was frequently consulted by new residents wanting to know where they might fit into a new community when they arrived here. Ruth’s advice to young women was “Make the world a better place through volunteering, while not overlooking family responsibilities.”
Ruth is now reunited with her husband, Chuck, who died June 15, 2017, as well as their infant daughter, Barbara Ann. She is survived by her daughter Peggy Samson of Bryan; son and daughter-in-law, Charles and Sherese Samson of Larue, Texas; two grandsons and spouse, Jim Skates of Larue and Keith and Reagan Skates of Paradise, Texas; and great-grandsons Easton Skates and Braden Skates of Paradise.
The family wishes to thank the Generations Center for Senior Living, and Hospice Brazos Valley, for their kind and loving care to her in recent months.
Visitation is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 14, from 5:30–7pm at Callaway-Jones Funeral Center in Bryan. Funeral services will be held at Callaway-Jones Funeral Center on Friday, Sept. 15 at 11 am, with Rev. Max Mertz officiating. Interment will immediately follow at College Station City Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Ruth’s memory may be made to the Wesley Foundation, c/o A&M United Methodist Church, or to a charity of choice.
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