Ruby Gish Jemson

1909 - 2000

Ruby Gish Jemson, a pianist, taught piano privately and at the college level even though her primary activities in thirty years of service in the Seventh-day Adventist church were working as a secretary and elementary school teacher.

Ruby was born in Capron, Oklahoma, one of eight children born to Samuel and Martha Gish. Ruby began taking piano lessons from her mother at age ten and after the family moved to Walla Walla, Washington, while she was a teenager, studied piano with teachers at Walla Walla College, now University.

Following completion of a piano teacher's course in the conservatory in 1929, she taught piano at the school for two years. In the summer following graduation she studied piano with Dorthea Nash and organ with Margaret Holden-Rippey in Portland. In 1931, she married Williard (Dean) Jemson, a Canadian student who had transferred to WWC from Canadian Junior College, now Canadian University College, in 1928 at age eighteen.

In 1935, they moved to Yakima, Washington, where he worked as a superintendent of its daily newspaper. They returned to College Place, Washington, in 1945 where he worked for three years at the Walla Walla College Press and then managed a dry cleaning plant. It was during this time, that Ruby, who was teaching piano privately, was accompanying Grace Wood Reith, a former teacher, when Reith had a fatal stroke and collapsed while singing the special music at the first night of camp meeting in College Place in 1947.

The Jemsons worked at Atlantic Union College in Massachusetts from 1948 to 1956 and at Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, in Michigan from 1956-61, where he managed the printing presses at those schools and she worked as a secretary.

In 1961, they moved to the Philippines, where he served as president of the Philippine Publishing House and then to Indonesia, where he again served in the same capacity at its publishing house. During these years, she taught in the church schools in those countries. After twelve years in Asia, they returned to the U.S., where he worked for three years as assistant to the general manager of the Review and Herald Publishing Association.

The Jemsons retired to Florida, residing in Fort Meyers until 1984. At that time they moved to Port Charlotte, where both of them worked as volunteers for the Charlotte County Library System for several years. They were honored for their work as Volunteers of the Year in 1991. After Ruby died on Thanksgiving Day in 2000 at the age of 91, Dean continued as a volunteer until 2010, when the Charlotte County Board of Commissioners proclaimed April 4, 2010, his 100th birthday, as Dean Jemson Day. He died eleven days later.



Sources: 1929, 1930 Walla Walla College Mountain Ash yearbooks, 36 and 71; "New College Press head arrives," 8; Lake Union Herald, 24 July 1956, Obituaries for Ruby Jemson, Southern Tidings, July 2001, 20, and the Review and Herald, 25 October 2001, 28; Andrews University Focus, Spring 2010, 43; 1910, 20, 30 U.S. Census Records; Social Security Records.