When it comes to succeeding in your later years, Ruth Carroll’s example should be followed.
A few things haven’t changed since they were called “Someone you should know” in The Alabama Baptist seven years ago. Her favorite song is still “Amazing Grace,” and Psalm 23 remains her favorite scriptural selection. She cares about both.
But things have also changed. For one thing, she celebrated her 95th birthday in Februaryth Birthday. The years of widowhood have increased to 31 after 49 years of marriage to Marcus. She has two daughters and a son; five grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren; but the number of great-great-grandchildren has doubled to 12.
There is adjustment to a greater dependency on family, and her children are her right ally when she faces challenges.
On a good day, Ruth can be found at church or gardening. Reading is another way to pass the time and pray for others.
Sunday lunch tradition
“I used to take my kids to church and when we got home we would enjoy Sunday lunch—all the trimmings,” Ruth recalled. “Then when my kids were grown, I told them that if they went to church, I would prepare everything for Sunday dinner at my house. They accepted me on the offer.”
Her daughter Janice said the tradition continues.
“Mom has left most of the preparations to other family members, but she helps as much as possible in the kitchen on Sunday mornings. She enjoys making cornbread and making a pot of coffee. About 11, sometimes more, gather after church every Sunday.”
Ruth chimes in: “And Thanksgiving, Christmas and all the holidays.”
It’s obvious that this tradition matters to her, and it’s an air of pride in the many years her family has accumulated and gratitude that she’s still able to participate.
A Legacy of Service
This marks 65 years that Ruth has been “on a mission.” She has held various leadership roles within the Woman’s Missionary Union: director of her church and at the union and district levels; a board member; leading acts and girls in action in their church; and a state leadership by Acteens.
When Ruth was a member of Chalybeate Springs Baptist Church, she was an all-ages Sunday School teacher, choir member, and Vacation Bible School volunteer. She has served in many other capacities, and her ministry continued when she joined Mount View Baptist Church in 2010.
Her pastor, Mark Milwee, said: “Mrs. Ruth Carroll is a model of loyalty and consistency.”
Before the pandemic, she attended church regularly, but now it can be a challenge.
As Ruth reviewed her life in ministry, she recalled working with a lay renewal team for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. She made three trips to Alaska and also traveled to Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
mental health project
The year was 1970. Ruth recalled a year when things changed for GAs when girls ages 12 and older transferred to a new missionary group, Acteens. They immediately wanted to do something special for someone.
Her very first missionary project was under Ruth’s leadership. It should reach people with mental health problems. They planned a party at the church, invited six ladies and prepared a gift bag for each person.
“It was a new venture for me at the time,” Ruth recalls. “I’ve done the party 51 times now. This is the first year that I am not serving as a leader; I took on a mentoring role.”
Over the years the outpatient party of the local mental health center (male and female) has grown. It is now an annual event held at another church within the Muscle Shoals Baptist Association. Volunteers prepare and serve lunch and provide items for the gift bags.
Ruth giggled and said, “Those are heavy too!”
Her advice to readers is simple: “Do what the Lord leads you to do and you will be fine.”