By Mallory Sherwood, Managing Editor
Ruth Stevens, wife of past-president and chancellor emeritus, Dr. John Stevens, died Saturday afternoon in her home at the age of 80.
Ruth had been in Hospice care at her home at Christian Village.
The former first lady of the university spent most of her adult life dedicated to the school, said Dr. Royce Money, president of the university.
“It’s a sad day when a person like Ruth dies,” he said. “She gave her life to the university from the time she was a student until now, a period that spans six decades. She was utterly devoted to ACU – just a remarkable woman.”
Ruth continued her family tradition when she began attending Abilene Christian College in 1941. Both of her parents graduated from ACC, and her father served on the board of trustees for several years. In 1945 she graduated with a degree in business administration, and in 1956 she graduated with a master’s degree in education.
She taught business administration at the university in 1946-48 and worked part time after her marriage to John Stevens in 1948.
They married after a three-month courtship and were lifelong partners.
Glenda Knight, director of University Events, said Ruth was the perfect mate for him.
“He loved her a lot, and they had a special love story,” Knight said. “They were a close family.”
Money and his wife, Pam, agreed.
“She was devoted to the university, but she was devoted to John and her family first,” Royce Money said.
Pam Money said John often joked that he couldn’t teach without Ruth or else he would be “ruthless” – an attribution to her character.
Pam Money said Ruth spent a lot of time helping John grade papers, write papers, and that she even attended classes with him sometime.
“Many ACU students will remember her as much as they remember John,” she said.
The Stevens raised two children, John Clark Stevens of Colleyville and Joyce Stevens Cole of Abilene, who survive. They also have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Pam Money said Ruth was a role model for her.
“She was herself all the way until the end,” Pam Money said. “She was always honest, always appropriate and loyal. She is the person that I aspire to grow up to be.”
When John became president in 1969, Ruth retired from teaching but didn’t stop giving to the university. She archived much of the university’s history in the library, including past editions of the Optimist.
Knight said she spent a lot of time with Ruth while the two helped John write his book, No Ordinary University.
“She spent so much time researching and organizing history for his book,” she said. “They knew so much history about the school. They wanted to tell a story, but they wanted to tell it accurately.
“I enjoyed the time I spent with her so much, she was so precious and giving and determined.”
The Moneys also enjoyed the time spent with the Stevens, as John was Royce Money’s mentor before he became an administrator on campus.
“Our relationship began in the ’60s, and he mentored me while he was still a vice president,” Royce Money said. “He and Ruth also were wonderful mentors to us in the early part of our marriage.”
Royce Money said John was doing “remarkably well,” although her death was obviously a blow.
“She will be missed by us all,” he said.
Elliot-Hamil Funeral Home is handling funeral arrangements. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at University Church of Christ. Money said John Stevens insisted her funeral and memorial not interfere with Lectureship, which runs through Wednesday.
He said Joe Baisden, Eddie Sharp, associate professor of Bible and himself, would preside over her funeral.