In Memoriam – Ruth Pardoe

HUNTINGTON – Ruth Wood Pardoe died Tuesday, June 20, 2017, at Joy Hill, her home in Huntington, with her family by her side.

Ruth Wood was born July 31, 1924, in West Springfield, the eldest of five sisters, to Berton Wood and Helen Bessie Moore Wood. She graduated from West Springfield High School in 1942 and went on to attend Smith College, graduating with a bachelors degree in American Studies in 1946. She later earned an masters degree in History from Ohio State University, and certification as a school librarian from C.W. Post College of Long Island.

She met Irving Gold, a musician, in 1944, and they married over Christmas the next year. They lived a nomadic existence for the next few years, Irving playing viola in several symphony orchestras while Ruth pursued her post-graduate studies, before returning to New York to raise a family. They had three sons, Peter, Michael and Jeremy. In 1956, Ruth and Irving bought the property known as Joy Hill, in Huntington. It became her favorite spot and her final resting place.

Ruth worked for years as the school librarian, at Syosset high school on Long Island. The job brought her great satisfaction. There she met her second husband, history teacher David Pardoe. When they retired, on their union pensions, Ruth and David traveled extensively, exploring ruins, enjoying local customs, and making friends. Crete, Southern France, and Tuscany were three or four month destinations every winter. Summers, they spent a month on the Pardoe family island in Canada, then returned to Joy Hill for the fall.

Ruth always felt a responsibility to live by her values. She was passionate about politics, the arts, the environment, and the human condition. As a young mother, she recognized the benefits of preschool education and was instrumental in starting the concept of kindergarten. She took great pride in the way that it grew into universal access.

Ruth served as a volunteer at the food bank of Western Mass and the Northampton Survival Center, a board member of the Commonwealth Opera, and a member of the Hilltown Land Trust board of directors. The conservation restriction on the land surrounding her home on Joy Hill was the first held by the Hilltown Land Trust. Ruth said, “It is such a joy to know that generations after us, people will still be able to come up this road, stop, and look out over the hills. The view will be a joy for others long after we’re gone.”

Ruth and her husband David had a vision of a summer arts festival hosting music, theater, spoken word, dance and visual arts. They began three decades ago with extensive renovations to Huntington’s North Hall, one of the oldest continuously operating public buildings in the Commonwealth. The programs, continuing for more than twenty years, are an enduring legacy, bringing together artists and audiences from all over the valley, and beyond.

Ruth made numerous contributions to the community she loved and was recently honored with the dedication of the annual Huntington Town Report. She best summed up her accomplishments in her own words, “There is nothing more rewarding in this life than helping in some way to make this a better world.”

Ruth was predeceased by her first and second husbands, her son Michael, and her sisters Betty and Myrtle. She is survived by her sons Peter and Jeremy Gold; her sisters Jean Gaitenby and Miriam Watkins; and their children and grandchildren.

A celebration will be held Saturday, July 29, at Joy Hill. Ruth left explicit instructions. “Have a party. Raise a glass to life. Enjoy some good food and reminisce a bit. It’s been a good life.”

Contributions in Ruth’s memory can be made to North Hall, and the Northampton Survival Center.

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