Ruth Smith Gilmer of Louisa, Virginia passed away on June 4, 2011 at age 89. She was born on the mission station at Mutoto, Belgian Congo, Africa on February 20, 1922 to Southern Presbyterian missionaries, Dr. Plumer Smith, and his wife Katie Russell Smith. She attended Central School at Lubondai, also in Kasai region of the Congo, graduating in 1938. After coming to the United States to attend college, first at Flora McDonald College, then Agnes Scott, she graduated from Erskine College, Due West, South Carolina in 1943 with a major in English. She subsequently taught school in North Carolina and Virginia. She married John B. Gilmer of Louisa, Virginia, in 1947 at Ginter Park Presbyterian Church in Louisa, Virginia. They celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary December 27, 2010. Ruth lived with her family in Louisa from 1957 to 1973. While there she taught second grade at Maude Trevett and Chamberlayne Elementary Schools in Henrico County. After moving to Louisa, Virginia in 1973, Ruth taught at the Louisa Elementary school as a third grade teacher and then as the reading teacher there and later at Thomas Jefferson School, retiring in 1989. She received a Master of Education degree from the University of Virginia in 1986.
Mrs. Gilmer was a faithful member of Louisa Baptist Church, where she taught Sunday School, sang in the Choir, and participated in the Silver Liners ” the cassette ministry for shut-ins and other activities. When she was young her father told her that she was named after the Biblical Ruth and “When people ask you to speak always say ‘Yes.’” Ruth did so speaking about her life and the Church’s ministry in the Congo. She loved to dress in her African outfit and sing Congolese songs for children at churches and schools. She displayed her many African artifacts her father brought back from the Congo and which she collected over the years.
Ruth was always ready to go on a trip with her family or friends. She traveled with her sister or other family members to points all over the United States. In 1991 with her brother Russell his wife Margie and daughter in law Cindy she visited her birth place Mutoto as they joined in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the African Presbyterian Congo Mission. In 1994 and 1995 she traveled to Guam and Iwo Jima with her husband John and in 2000 to Alaska with her daughters and granddaughters. She enjoyed traveling by train and collecting toy trains and participated with her husband in the Virginia Train Collectors club.
Mrs. Gilmer is survived by her husband John B. Gilmer son John B. Gilmer Jr. and his wife Cindy M. Gilmer of Forty Fort Pennsylvania daughters Patsy Gilmer Crawley and Susan Gilmer West and her husband Larry West of Chesterfield County and son Charles Russell Gilmer and his wife Mirian Gilmer also of Chesterfield County. Mrs. Gilmer has six grandchildren. Ginny Grey lives with her husband Lt. Steven Grey USN in Salinas California. James A. Crawley Melissa R. West Michael P. West Patrick G. Crawley and Stephen G. West are all residents of Chesterfield County. Mirian’s children Mesthy and Jayson also look to Ruth as their grandmother. Also surviving is her brother Russell M. Smith of Alexandria Virginia and his sons Rusty Theron and Jay and their families. Lynn Gilmer Guilford of Louisa is a surviving sister in law. Her daughter Lynn lives in Ashland and sons Billy and Mike also live in Louisa. Her sister in law Mildred Center Gilmer and her children Meriwether Elizabeth Burt and Meg and their families live in the Atlanta Georgia area. Mrs. Gilmer was preceded in death by her parents her brother John Newton Smith and her sister Betty Anne Smith.
The family will receive visitors at Woodward Funeral Home 200 Fredericksburg Ave. Louisa on Thursday June 9 at 6:00PM to 8:00PM. A graveside service will be held at 10:00AM Friday June 10 at Hillcrest Cemetery 3 miles west of Louisa on Route 33. A memorial service at Louisa Baptist Church will follow at 11:00 AM. The service will be followed by a reception at the church. For those who would prefer to do so a gift may be made in Ruth Gilmer’s name to the Fund for the Brazil Mission Trip in care of Louisa Baptist Church P.O. Box 552 Louisa Virginia 23093.