Ruth Altendorf, age 91, recently moved from the community of Harrison Hot Springs her home of over 30 years to begin a new chapter. The author and columnist has left no stone unturned and is known by those who know her best as Mrs. Harrison.
She has left her mark on the community with a bench and a bridge dedicated in her honour. Ruth’s departure is more of a transitional phase in her life, as opposed to a major move, having left for Logan Manor in the neighboring community of Agassiz.
Just who is Ruth Altendorf, one might ask….
Ruth has lived a diverse life, having immigrated from Germany with her late husband Heinz, over 60 years ago. She has three children Eric, Yvonne, and Julia, all of whom are fully grown and live in Vancouver and the US.
The first thing one notices about Ruth is her effervescence, and a youthfulness that belies her age. She walks with a cane, which somehow adds to the overall impression of a matriarch who has and will continue to live life on her own terms.
The feisty dame, author, mother and widow is gracious and the tone mercurial as she sat down with The Observer to discuss the transition and plans for her new life at The Manor.
One notes, the many books on her kitchen table, they are Ruth’s precious writings; some are memoirs, many are based on the goings on in Harrison and the people well loved in the community.
She confides that she often writes in a comedic tone as Ruthy (sort of a sassy alter ego,) confessing, that humour is a blessing in Logan Manor but that she has to be careful not to get into trouble with her musings or be too subversive with her writings.
Ruth has been a contributor to The Observer for over 25 years with her column This Side of Ninety and has been writing since she can remember.
As an early riser, Ruth, enjoys a good cup of coffee and then begins writing as part of her morning routine at the Manor.
“I wake up with writing and I go to bed at night and I’m thinking about stories before I go to sleep,” she said.
On writing a column for a newspaper.
“I liked doing it, the only thing is, that you are always under time pressure,” she said of the experience.
Ruth was gearing up for the Seniors Book Launch that was hosted at the Library to promote authorship of local seniors in the community.
She spoke fondly of the workshops offered by the year long program which taught seniors how to create and publish their own multimedia projects before the final results were launched for the public to view at the Agassiz Library.
“Some learned to use the computer which I admire deeply,” she says with a laugh.
Ruth is no stranger to computers and was one of the first people to do the job with the computer 35 years ago for a company she worked at in Toronto, but she admits she’s fallen behind on the latest technological advances.
“Things have changed and computer technique is taking over in a way as a result,” she said.
Ruth is not new to volunteerism, having dominated the field of volunteering over the years in various capacities. She has been part of the Harrison Kent Community Choir, and started a hiking group with Heinz which is now known as Harrison Hikers. She also spent ten years as a volunteer at Logan Manor where she currently resides.
Ruth originates from Freiburg Germany the capital city of the Black Forest.
Ruth’s goal now is to write about serious issues that seniors face but to also cast them in a comedic light where appropriate.
“I want to bring in the lighter side,” she says of some of the difficult issues that seniors currently face in the community.
Ruth admits that a lot of words like age-friendly get thrown around and she feels that communities have a long way to go before truly encompassing those words.
“It’s not anywhere near being age friendly and that could cause problems for people my age,” she said.
Mostly Ruth is happy to have her writing.
“I write everyday, I get up, have coffee, and I keep writing and I go over my drafts.”