Ruth Elizabeth (Walter) Press
August 8, 1916 – January 14, 2014
On January 14, 2014 in the presence of loved ones, Mrs. Ruth E. Press, aged 97, took leave of this world and entered Heaven.
A life-long Delaware City resident, Toots’ history is rooted and intertwined with that of her beloved town. Her father, a veteran of the Spanish-American War, brought his family to Delaware City in 1913 when he was appointed Quarter Master, Baker, and Carpenter at Fort DuPont. It was on Clinton Street, August 8, 1916, that Toots was born to August and Mary-Margaret Smith Walter, the 6th in a family of 9 children.
The young family moved to a house at the end of Madison Street near the Train Station located there at the time and Toots remembered her father offering her two cents for every bucket of coal she collected along the tracks. As a teenager, she helped to build her family home, also on Madison Street. It was a Sears & Roebuck kit house and Toots helped her family in any way she could, including helping to dig the basement. She often recalled care free and pleasant memories of her youth such as swimming (and sometimes just floating the day away) in the Delaware River and of Delaware City’s very first carnival. In 2011, at the age of 95, she was honored to participate in the modern version of the town’s carnival, the “Delaware City Day” parade and celebration.
Toots graduated from the Delaware City School on Fifth and Bayard Streets in 1934, just two years after it was built. Her first job was that of a seamstress at Fort DuPont where she mended and tailored soldiers uniforms. When Fort DuPont was decommissioned, turned over to the State of Delaware and renamed the Governor Bacon Health Center, Toots worked as a Switchboard Operator there for 33 years. Always industrious, she also took jobs at Sterling’s Bar & Restaurant and the Delaware City Recreational Club. She volunteered at her church, the Delaware City Elementary School and Meals on Wheels. She was a member of the American Legion and an honorary member and steadfast supporter of the Delaware City Fire Company where she was recognized for her contributions at their annual banquet just 10 days before her death.
A life-long member of St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church on Washington Street, Toots exchanged vows of marriage there with John E. Press on May 9, 1935. They made their home on the very same street and she felt satisfaction in growing, preserving and canning food from her yard. Many years later Toots was very proud to have built a new home according to her own design on the same property. The couple enjoyed trips to the Press family beach house located on Fenwick Island, and socializing with family and friends. Toots was instrumental in the formation and construction of the Delaware City Recreational Club and for the last several years she has had the distinction of holding card number “001” as the eldest member of the club.
Although a hometown girl at heart, Toots was pleased to visit various sites in the USA, Mexico, and Europe, using Germany as a starting point while her son was stationed there. A devout catholic, she often spoke fondly of her trip to “The Holy Land” and of dipping her feet in the Jordan River.
Toots was adventurous, fearless, social and fun-loving with a keen sense of humor that was sometimes as racy as her long red fingernails! Her kindness and generosity were illustrated by countless thoughtful deeds bestowed upon her family, friends, and community and in the way that she loved and cared for animals. She loved bingo, word find puzzles and crocheting, creating many keepsakes for those she loved and also for charities. She was independent, of strong will and spirit, a Gold Star Mother. She had an agile mind, was a historian and story-teller, a matriarch and a constant in the community and the lives of many. She will be fondly remembered and carried in our hearts “as ever” and for always.
In addition to her parents, Toots was preceded in death by her husband, John E. Press; children, Victor Press and Ruth Ann Hetzler; grandsons, John Gann and David Gann; siblings, Margaret Taylor, Charles Walter, Marie Hammond, Helen Sefcik, Francis Walter, Victor Walter, George Walter, and Agnes Weicker.
She is survived by grandchildren, Yvonne McVey, Terry Press (Vicky), Glenn Davis (Julie), and Vicki Gene Gann; 6 great-granddaughters; 11 great-great grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews including those with whom she had a special bond, Elissa Souder, Abby Souder, and Susan Ritter. She is also survived by her daughter-in-law, Betsy Lacinski, who was like a biological daughter to her, along with many friends and her caretaker, Cheryl Swift.
A visitation will be held from 6 pm until 8 pm on Friday evening, January 17, 2014 at the Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 214 Clinton Street, Delaware City, DE. Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 am on Saturday, January 18, 2014, at the St. Paul’s R.C. Church, 209 Washington Street, Delaware City, DE. Interment will follow in Old St. Paul’s Cemetery, Delaware City.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Toot’s memory can be made to Faithful Friends, 12 Germay Drive, Wilmington, DE 19804.