Ellen Ruth Blackburn North
Ruth Blackburn North, pianist, organist, and choir director, was an elementary school and music teacher in Baltimore, Maryland, and in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York. The oldest of eight children, she left home for Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, at age fifteen, hoping to be a foreign missionary. She began teaching at age eighteen and retired at age 75.
Following her marriage to James North, a pastor, in 1938, she devoted 29 years to homemaking, which included raising James, Jr., an adopted daughter, and two foster children. When her husband pastored the Springfield Gardens Church in New York, she served as senior choir director and as organist and pianist.
Her son, James Jr., also an accomplished pianist, served in the U.S. Air Force as a chaplain and after he retired served as a seminary professor at Andrews University. Ruth was living in Berrien Springs, Michigan, when she died at age 97.
Sources: Andrews University Focus, Winter 2000, 28 and Spring 2002, 20.