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Ruth Brown was a "surrogate parent" in Shepherdstown

July 11, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. - Ruth Brown, the longtime director of the Shepherdstown Day Care Center who cared for countless children in town and was like a "surrogate parent" in the community, was honored during a reception Sunday that attracted about 150 people.

Brown was showered with accolades and gifts during the afternoon celebration at Trinity Episcopal Church in Shepherdstown.

Brown retired April 29 as director of the day-care center, ending a 31-year career at the center.

Brown, 53, was praised for her devotion to the center and the selfless approach she took to her job. Brown worked closely with parents of children at the center and took good care of her staff, said friends and co-workers.

Employees at the center said they always felt comfortable talking to Brown about any problem.

And when it came to the hundreds of children who attended the center, Brown had them etched in her memory, said Martha Swartz, who teaches at the center.

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Some children who went through the day-care center sometimes returned to visit the center as adults, Swartz said.

Brown always remembered them, no matter how long they had been gone, Swartz said.

"She's an amazing lady," Swartz said.

Brown said she left the job because she gave more to the position than she should have.

Brown would arrive at the day-care center along River Road at 6:30 a.m. and often stay until 8:30 or 9 p.m., or later.

"My body was just too tired to do it as director," Brown told the crowd during the ceremony.

Brown said she would like to return to the center as a member of its board of directors. Brown said she would like to be on the board to follow through on projects such as an expansion of the center.

Among those people honoring Brown was Shepherdstown Mayor Peter Wilson, who presented Brown with a certificate of appreciation for her work and recognized her 31 years of "loving care" to children in town.

Wilson said simply recognizing Brown for her 31 years at the center is something that can be done quickly at a ceremony like the one on Sunday.

However, breaking down the years of service puts it in a different perspective.

The 31 years amounts to more than 11,000 days of taking care of children, Wilson said.

"That's a lot of time. That's a lot of loving care," Wilson said.

Swartz gave Brown a "memory box," which contained memorabilia from the center and letters to Brown from staff members.

The Shepherdstown Day Care Center serves 80 children and has a waiting list of parents wanting to take their children there, board of director members said. It is the only day-care center in the county that offers services to parents based on their ability to pay, they said.

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