Wilma Ruby Harrison

Wilma Ruby Harrison, 82, known to all her loved ones as Ruby, passed away on January 7 2011 in Huntington Beach after a long struggle with dementia. Ruby was an indomitable spirit whose generosity, humor and passion for cooking created many lifelong friendships and a catering client-list that extended into every ethnic neighborhood in Los Angeles and Orange County.Born in Oaks, Oklahoma on April 9, 1928, Ruby was the oldest daughter of Lena and Ernest Raymond. The Raymond Family lived on Cherokee land, and then moved from farm to farm as sharecroppers to pick cotton for much of Ruby's childhood. At age 13, she took money from her Mom's purse and boarded a bus to Los Angeles. After obtaining false ID to state she was 17, she started work as a line-worker at Nabisco Foods packaging cookies. She quit and became a waitress shortly thereafter once she learned she would receive a meal in addition to her wages working in a restaurant. A local electrician, Terry Harrison, came in for lunch on a regular basis. Ruby was smitten because she said Terry respected her and didn't pressure her to get married right away. Ruby and Terry were married in Yuma AZ in 1947, settled in Downey CA, and lived in the same home for 53 years. Ruby was ahead of her time, and a true independent woman. She had two children, Terry Darlene and Robert, and began working as a seamstress, babysitter and cake baker. After providing hundreds of wedding cakes to many clients, Ruby realized she could probably cook and cater for large parties. An unstructured, but exceptionally creative lady, she formed Ruby's Catering Company and thrived for over twenty years. One of her fondest memories was when Governor Pete Wilson came into the kitchen at the Hyatt Regency and thanked her and all the staff for a wonderful meal during one of his campaign stops. Ruby particularly enjoyed learning how to prepare meals for all ethnicities to meet the special requests of her clients throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. Ruby' heart was filled with compassion for anyone disadvantaged. Because of her own poverty as a child, she was determined to help others as she continued to be blessed with opportunity. She took food to the homeless in Los Angeles; she purchased books for young girls so they could continue to study; she paid for car repairs of friends who were down on their luck and paid for other people's children to go to any Museum as part of their educational experience. In her older years, Ruby drove friends to their doctor's appointments and helped anyone who was sick or lonely. As long as she was physically capable, Ruby was there to help. Ruby and Terry's life was fulfilled because of the meaningful, close bonds they shared with a close-knit set of friends: Shirley and George Wagner, Ruth and Eli Hobson, Dob and Lil Durkin, Beryle and Swede Cleveland and Millie and Fay Miner. The most important part of her life was her children and grandchildren. Ruby was always happiest and comforted knowing her children were independent, strong and caring. Although we will deeply miss our mother, she left an indelible print on our hearts and gave us the fondest of memories and eternal love. We will always be exceptionally grateful for all she has given. Ruby is survived by her children, Terry Darlene and her husband Terry Herbeck of Huntington Beach, Bob and his wife Anne of San Diego, her grandchildren, Daniel, James and Megan and her sister Norma of Las Vegas. A private internment is planned at the Riverside National Cemetery, and a celebration of her life is by invitation on January 23. In lieu of flowers, you may send a donation to the Union Rescue Mission, 555 S San Pedro Street, LA CA 90013 in Ruby's name.

********** Published: January 13, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 39