Ruth Hunt wanted us to appreciate where we came from

Mayor A.J. Holloway was one of the people who eulogized longtime civic leader Ruth Hunt during a memorial service on Monday, Dec. 17, 2007 at First United Methodist Church in Biloxi. Hunt, a longtime friend of Holloway and his wife, Macklyn, died Dec. 13, 2007.

Good morning. I’m honored that Ruth asked me to say a few words at this service. I’m also honored that she wanted Macklyn and me to be seated with her family.

We were close to Ruth for most of our life, and it’s special to us that she wanted us close by at her death.

Some of you know that we were with her when she died.

In fact, in the hospital room in Gulfport that morning, Susan and Martha told her, “Moma, A.J. and Macklyn are here.” Ruth looked up at me.

I held her hand and I looked into those pretty blue eyes and I said, “Ruth, do you know where you are? You’re in GULFPORT. Now we need to get you back to Biloxi, where you belong!”

She responded with a little laugh.

Besides her family and her church, Ruth’s main passions all centered around Biloxi.

She loved her city. She loved its people – well, most of them. She loved its traditions. Its culture and its heritage.

Ruth was a student of history, and she had a good habit of sharing her love and knowledge of history, particularly with the children – all children – of this city. One way she did that was through her devotion to Biloxi Public Schools.

Another passion of hers was Mardi Gras. The Hunt family’s connection to Biloxi Mardi Gras goes back for generations.

Ruth cherished the customs, the revelry and the history of Mardi Gras. She worked to instill that same feeling into our young people.

She wanted them to carry on these traditions so that future generations could enjoy them. That’s why she was instrumental in the creation of the Mardi Gras Museum.

Those of you who knew Ruth knew that she could be blunt and to the point. But she was also gentle and compassionate. She would tell you what she liked about this city and the things she didn’t like.

But regardless of her manner, she always had the same goal: She wanted us to appreciate where we came from, the importance of our roots, and how we evolved to where we are today.

Through her deeds and thoughts, Ruth inspired you to be a better person.

Today, we should celebrate her life, her passion and how she led by example.

On that final day in the hospital, I told Ruth that she needed to return to Biloxi.

Well, she’s here today in spirit.

We should find satisfaction in the fact that God called her home after such a rich and rewarding life.

When you think about it, Ruth Hunt gave us a great gift. She gave us ourselves. She told our history, and our history is what’s going to help make our future.

God bless Ruth Hunt and may she rest in peace.