Ruth Fenner Braddock was born 92 years ago to a "good Christian" family in upstate New York on the St. Laurence River before it was engineered to become the St. Laurence Seaway. She remembers very well December 7, 1942, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the U.S. declared war on Japan, thus entering World War II. She wanted to enlist right away but she was too young. She attended Syracuse University for two years until she was old enough to join the Women's Army Corps. She was stationed in Camp Killen, New Jersey, the embarcation and deembarcation point for soldiers going to and returning from the European front.
In her job as a chaplain's assistant (unusual for a woman), she helped comfort the wounded and sick. She recalls that the Camp hospital was inundated with wounded soldiers after the infamous Battle of the Bulge in Europe. Many of the soldiers came back with missing limbs, some had to be transported in baskets. But all were happy to have survived the war.
During the war she met G. Holmes Braddock, her husband-to-be, who was a male nurse in the Army. In 1944, they got married and moved to Florida.
They lived in a converted Army barracks building near the University of Miami where Ruth finished getting her undergraduate degree and earned her master's. She said the housing had kerosene stoves. Ruth received a scholarship for playing drums in the University marching band.
She and Holmes had 4 children and moved to Pinecrest in 1958 to the house she still resides in. Ruth was an avid swimmer and wanted a swimming pool in her backyard. She taught not only her own children but all the neighborhood children to swim. Teaching swimming became a profession, in addition to teaching school. She taught geography at the then newly opened Howard Drive elementary for many years. Later she taught "Communism v. Americanism," a required course, at Palmetto High School.
In the interview, she talks about her experiences during the difficult period of desegregation in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
Ruth was one of the founders of the Women's History Coalition, which documents the lives of women who have made important contributions to the community life of South Florida.