Ruth Ann Seabaugh 1947 – 2012

1968-04-24 Advance Advertiser Ruth ann Seabaugh 02While rooting through a box of crumbling clips, I discovered this 1968 Advance Advertiser with Ruth Ann Seabaugh’s photo on the front page. She and two other young women were finalists in the Miss U.S.A. Beauty Pageant held in the Advance High School gym. I scanned the photo and sent it to her sister, Mary Francis and her daughter, Leslie Stewart.

The two women and I had exchanged emails when I mentioned Ruth Ann in some earlier stories. Mary answered almost immediately, saying the timing quite a coincidence: Ruth Ann died on March 5, 2012.

An extraordinary woman

Homecoming 34I’ve written before about how majorette Ruth Ann owned the street when she strutted down it. She had a presence you don’t see in many young women of that age. I didn’t realize exactly how powerful a woman she was until her daughter, Leslie sent me an email last year:

That’s the remarkable thing about finding your page…She is in print again. It feels like she isn’t forgotten and that feels wonderful.

Mom was hit by a drunk driver in 1979. I was 6.  He T-boned her car as he ran a stoplight doing 80mph.  She survived because the accident occurred right in front of a hospital. She was leaving a doctor’s appointment.  She was in a coma for 9 months and ultimately in the hospital 2 years before she could come home.  She was a very determined and tough-minded person.  Because she spent the rest of her life disabled, most people didn’t see her beauty.  That’s another striking thing about finding these pictures.  You captured her, and I can tell you really did get it.  I can also tell you’re an excellent writer, something I really admire. [Editor’s Note: Insert blush here.]

Daughters went into military

Central High School Band and majorettes in paradeMy sister and I both went into the military after high school. I went into the Air Force and my sister went into the Army. People wondered about that and thought maybe it was some male influence that drove our success.  My sister was the first female allowed to deploy in the field with the “Big Red One” as an Intel Analyst.  I was Airman of the Year for the 1st (now 16th) Special Operations Wing my first year in the service.  Mom was the one who modeled determination and resourcefulness for us. Nothing stopped her. Nothing.  

She endured a lot, alone. Even disabled, she returned to work as a nurse for a nursing home for a time. It meant she had to give up some of her social security benefits but she liked helping people.  She was a hard worker and she taught her girls the same.

I eventually got a commissioning program and studied Human Factors at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  I became an Aerospace Physiologist in the Air Force, went to pilot training and got to fly jets until God called me to the Church.  

I graduate with a Masters of Divinity from Southern Methodist University on May 17th. I’ll be ordained in the Episcopal Church in June.

I’m a little nervous, but seeing these pictures of mom leading a band down the street reminds me I have no reason to be.  I was formed to lead by someone who did it very well.  Thank you, Ken.

 Ruth Ann’s obituary

1965 Central High School majorettesRuth Ann (nee Seabaugh) Jahnssen, passed away, Monday, March 5, 2012.

Loving wife for 29 years of John Jahnssen; devoted mother of Makaden “Laura” Nite and Leslie Ann (Mike) Stewart; loving step mother of Sherman (Jan), Jimmy Lee (Sally) and Sandra Dee Jones; dear sister of Mary Jane (and the late Alvin) Francis, Pyrtle “Buck” ( Joanie), George (Edie), Delores (Orville) Krauss, Doug (Marie), Marlene “Boots” (Edgar) Schott, Harold “Butch” (Linda), and Kay (Ronnie) Thiele; loving aunt, cousin, and friend to many.

After college Ruth Ann began her career as a teacher, and then became a registered nurse, serving the St. Louis community for over 20 years.

Interment: Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Siteman Cancer Center Washington University, Campus Box 1204 St. Louis, MO 63105-2161.

Leslie added some details in an email: “the obit failed to mention my son, Ryan, and also mom’s step-grandchildren.  Mom died of brain cancer but she was herself until the day she died. When she was diagnosed they gave her 3-6 months but she made it 18 months from the diagnosis.  She was really something!”

More photos

You can see more photos of Ruth Ann in these posts.

True Confessions

Central High School pep rally c 1965

I have a confession to make: I’ve been binge-watching Friday Night Lights, the TV series about high school football in a small Texas town.

“Why in the world are you watching that?” a friend asked. “You don’t even like sports.”

My only excuse is that I like the photography and lighting and it reminds me of the scores of high school football games I covered. I always said I would rather cover high school sports than college or pro games because the players are real. They may have grandiose ideas about getting rich in the future, but on Friday night, it’s all about playing for their team, their school (and to get girls).

High school soap opera

Central High School pep rally c 1965Think of Friday Night Lights as a soap opera set in high school. It’s kind of like Glee, except they don’t break out in annoying singing and cavorting. I hate lip synching, particularly when the actors over-emote and look like a poodle passing peach pits in the close-ups.

Anyway, I scanned this pep rally a long time ago, but held off running it because a lot of the negatives were in really bad shape.

Coach Goodwin wasn’t Coach Taylor

Central High School pep rally c 1965

NBC’s Coach Taylor character was a tough, but compassionate coach who managed to turn the role into an 2011 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and was nominated for another one in 2010.

As a non-jock, I generally flew beneath the radar of Cape Central’s Coach Goodwin. I didn’t get to see his compassionate side. I shared some of my phys ed experiences earlier.

Narrow ties and white socks era

Central High School pep rally c 1965It looks like white socks and narrow ties were the uniform of the day.

I recognize some folks

Central High School pep rally c 1965I have the luxury of being able to blow up the film like it was a crime scene photo on a TV show. When I  enlarge it way, way up, I think I can pick out some of the members of the pep band: David Hahs, Lee Dahringer and John Ueleke. I’m pretty sure Joan Earley is sitting next to the band. You’ll just have to take my word for it. You CAN click on the photos to make them larger, but you won’t be able to take them up as much as I can with the raw film.

1965 Majorettes

Central High School pep rally c 1965The majorettes in the background were part of the Class of 1965, so these were probably taken in the fall of 1964 or early in 1965. I can’t remember when football season ended and basketball started. I don’t recognize the girls in the football uniforms.

If I hurry up and post this, I might be able to knock off the rest of Season 2 before I go to bed.