Letters to the editor

April 08, 2003

Donnie Ruth will be missed

To the editor:

As a young boy, I sat in a pew of First Christian Church as our new organist played the church's Moller organ like I had heard no other. My parents whispered to me definitely, "He's really good!" This new organist was Don Ruth. Donnie came aboard on the music staff at First Christian along with Jim Wilson, who assumed the position of choir director, and Vaughn Crowl, who was to be director of children's choirs. For me, it was a very important and fertile time. I was a young, budding musician who was totally enthralled with how these three people made music.

One Sunday morning after services, my dad took me up to the organ while Don was playing his postlude. I was amazed how our organist operated this giant "machine," making music from it. I asked if I could play the organ. "Sure," he said as he slid out from behind the instrument's three keyboards, full pedal board, and an array of buttons and knobs that, to me, resembled the cockpit of a 747 more than anything else. Donnie took me under his wing as a student shortly after that day. For seven years or so, I took weekly lessons with him at the pipe organ in the sanctuary.


As a teacher, Donnie had a great manner. He was great with kids. All of the kids in Vaughn's Crusader Choir liked to hang around the piano while he improvised. He was a great teacher for us. He explained things very simply and directly while never talking down, or condescending to us - an important thing when you're teaching kids how to make music. He had an equally good rapport with members of the adult choir, and always had his special fan club, who would stand around the organ after Sunday services listening to the postlude and bursting into a Horowitzian ovation when he finished.

As a person, he was kind, funny, and warm hearted. He loved music and had respect for his position. Yet, he liked to joke and clown around. He had a colorful, mischievous side, which was endearing.

Yet, he was a man of faith and solemnity. He had great respect for the church and for his position. He was well-trained classically, but could do a mean jazz riff. He was a very caring individual who always had time to give you a smile, a hello, and a listen. All of these characteristics permeated his work with members of the choirs, music and church staffs, and congregation. An event at First Christian was never complete without Donnie - whether it be him at the Moller on Sunday mornings, his Christmas Eve recitals, his inspiring solo recital, accompanying choir rehearsals on Wednesday evenings, at retreat at Shrine Mont, playing the piano at various church functions, dinners and parties.

All of us who knew Donnie have our own memories. These are just a quick few of my own. However, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that while Donnie's playing was an indispensable part of life at First Christian, it was Donnie himself - his presence, and his loving personality, which was, and always will be an ever-important part of the church.

Jane L. Sutton
Waynesboro, Pa.

Who's stupid?

To the editor:

As a conservative and a Christian who is an avid reader of many types of publications and a listener to conservative talk radio, I take great umbrage at Douglas Arey's letter of Sunday, March 30.

The premise of Arey's letter is that conservatives aren't smart and don't read well, so they listen to the radio, which in turn gives them what they want, namely news from a conservative slant.

Liberals, according to Arey, are smarter, so they get their news from the printed media which caters to their liberal slant.

Now that has my poor, stupid, befuddled brain all messed up, so I need to ask Mr. Arey one question. Why is he, a "smart" liberal, behind bars while I enjoy my freedom?

Marie Showalter

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