Ruth M. B. Gardner
Ruth Marion Bestul Gardner was born in Evanston Illinois to Harold Rueben and Marion Edna Haines Bestul on December 8, 1927. The oldest of four, her brother Richard died at age 11, the three remaining sisters are still very close. Raised during the depression in various small Wisconsin towns and in Chicago, the family eventually moved to Seattle where Ruth spent her freshman year at the University of Washington. They then returned to Chicago where she worked for an advertising agency in the Loop and took classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. She loved the West and was able to move to Tucson in 1947, she took evening classes at the U of A and worked for decorators on Court street where 'El Charro' restaurant is now.
Ruth met Leon Medford Gardner and remembers walking with him in the U of A mall when the palm trees were only shoulder high - they fell in love there and were married in 1948. Children Lee Michael, Gary Bestul, Eric Randall, Melinda Susan, and Melissa Jeanne completed the family. In 1963 Ruth returned to U of A as a sophmore, after being a sophmore for the past 17 years, with an English major and an art minor. She graduated 7th in her class in 1965 and began graduate school in English Literature in 1966. In 1967 she recieved her MA and in 1968, at the age of 41, the first of her ten grandchildren was born. Ruth began the PhD program but in 1969 became an ABD instead in order to help pay for her children's education. She began teaching full time at the U of A English department in 1969 as an instructor in English and wrote a freshman English text published as "Aspects of Composition" with Jo Inman in 1970. She also began writing poems around this time and has never stopped. Some of Ruth's poems were published in small literary journals and a chapbook titled "From Here."
Ruth was promoted to lecturer in the English Department, where she supervised teaching assistants, supervised other supervisors, taught all the courses in the Compostition and Rhetoric programs, plus American Literature, and she created many exciting experimental programs and even taught the first computer courses. In 1986 she was granted a sabbatical, the first lecuturer to be granted one.
After Ruth retired, a Freshman Composition text was dedicated to her, and an award in her name is given for outstanding GAT's. In 1994 the love of her life, Leon, died, resulting in hundreds of 'Lee poems'. Ruth is still writing poems, still walking the U of A mall, attending book groups and writing groups in both Tucson and Silver City, New Mexico, her second home. She raised her family to appreciate the beauty of nature, of books and art, of learning and growing within your life. She is courageous, and adventurous, and beautiful, and we thank her for being so.
Here is Ruth's summary of thanks and praises for her family;
I thank you Earth and Universe for all your miracles and mysteries:
I praise all the miracles
of space and lands and waters and airs and the living beings they nurture.
And the intricacies of the cycles and interrelationships of these miracles.
I praise all the mysteries
Of living and dying within this nurturing web of miracles.