Woodstock Newspaper index
Hanley, Ruth (Died)
appeared in Woodstock Sentinel, 16 Jul 2014, A, p. 12, column 3
Full Text

HANLEY, Ruth - Born July 11, 1930 in Woodstock, Ontario. Died January 13, 2014 in Auchlochan, Lesmahagow, Scotland. Margaret Ruth Ross was born in 1930 in Woodstock, Ontario, to Albert and Bella Ross. She and her brother Burns regularly helped their parents in the running of their farm and very much enjoyed their dogs, cats and horses. Ruth was always an animal lover and enjoyed the beauty of nature. From an early age Ruth’s ambition was to be a missionary nurse. However she had a congenital deformity of the bones of her left ankle and had increasing difficulty with walking during her teenage years. One of her uncles, a doctor, heard of a surgeon in Toronto who was pioneering an operation to stabilize an ankle like Ruth’s. The operation was successful and after five years Ruth had earned a Nursing degree from the University of Western Ontario. During her time at University, Ruth was developing a strong concern for the spiritual needs of the Muslim world. This burden was confirmed as she spent the next 4 years at Bible College in Columbia, South Carolina gaining a masters degree. She then applied to a Missionary organization who asked her to add midwifery to her medical skills and for that it was necessary to cross the Atlantic and spend a year studying and working in England. One evening after a church meeting, she met a certain John Hanley and it emerged they had very similar aspirations and calling. In August 1961, Ruth sailed to Aden (South Yemen) to join in the medical work and Christian work taking place there. In 1962 she crossed the Red Sea to work in Eritrea (A province of Ethiopia in those days) where once again she met and got to know John Hanley and was delighted when he asked her to marry him! In July 1963 Ruth and John were married in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, and began work in Massawa on the Red Sea Coast. They spent each morning seeing to the medical needs of sick women and children including many leprosy patients. They also looked after a bookshop belonging to missionaries who were away on home assignment. The next five years were full of dramas, joys and dangers. While they were at Arabic language school in Amman, Jordan, the “Six Day War” broke out. Their house was only a few hundred yards from buildings targeted by Israeli jets. Ruth persuaded Jonathan, (3 years), and baby Heather it would be fun to lie UNDER the bed while listening to the “fireworks!” They had to be evacuated by the American army and the Royal Air Force through Iran and Cyprus. The following year, 1968, they began working among North African Muslims in France and again had to flee to England for a time because there was rioting in the streets. That was the only time they smelled tear gas! Ruth took all these events in her stride and made sure their three children (Jonathan 1964, Heather 1966 and Cathy 1968) were happy and well cared for. During the subsequent 30 plus years working in France, Ruth loved raising her children and seeing her grandchildren growing up, but there was always time for other children of all ages! They loved her for it. One of their friends, an Arab Muslim lady, who was waiting for an operation, said “If I die in this operation will you look after my daughters?” Ruth and John moved to Scotland in 2004 where they enjoyed making new friends and becoming involved in the community at Auchlochan Retirement Village, however they kept returning to work in France approximately twice a year. In 2012, it became apparent that Ruth was losing her physical strength and in February 2013 her illness was confirmed as Motor Neurone Disease. For the next ten months there was a rapid decline until she was totally dependent on her family and care givers. It was a great sadness for her and the family to witness her gradual loss of physical abilities and finally even her speech. However, Ruth showed great patience and courage and learned to use a range of technology to help overcome some barriers to daily living and communicating. Ruth was known for her positive approach to life, her warm and ready smile, her hospitality and faithful letter writing and above all her love for God, for other people and her desire to communicate the Christian message in word and action. Ruth slipped away peacefully at home during the last night of her earthly life on January 13, 2014. She is sadly missed by her family and friends

Media Type
Genealogical Resource
Item Type
Date of Publication
16 Jul 2014
Date Of Event
13 Jan 2014
Last Name(s)
Language of Item
Geographic Coverage
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 43.13339 Longitude: -80.7497
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Hanley, Ruth (Died)