HARCO -- On Feb. 3, 2018, just days short of her 102nd birthday, Heaven welcomed a sweet new edition. Ruby Mae (Cravens) Clarida went home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the angels, and a multitude of family and friends in Heaven who were certainly wondering what had been taking her so long to join them.
Ruby Mae was born Feb. 12, 1916, to John and Bessie Cravens, the oldest of six children, and only girl, in the Crab Orchard area of Williamson County.
Miss Ruby moved to the Harco area in Saline County as a youngster for her father to find work, and that is where she first met and fell in love with Leeman Clarida. They were married on Oct. 15, 1934. They set up household on a small farm near Harco. Soon came along the children, Leeman Ray (Marcella), Betty Larue, Linda Lou (Noel) Howver, Lawrence James (Lillian), Larry Gene (Linda Anne), David Lee and Gary Robert.
Mr. Clarida worked in the coal mines and various other jobs, and Mrs. Clarida was well known for her laying hens and had many customers on her egg route. She also aided the family's income by taking on housekeeping jobs. She worked hard to make her family as comfortable as she could.
Ruby knew, and was known by, everyone in the community. She took the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior when she was 18. In 1946, she helped organize a small church near her home. Smart's Chapel was completed and dedicated in 1947. Mrs. Clarida was the oldest surviving and founding member.
The church was a busy place for many years. And then, as many small country churches do, people began to move off or traveled to attend other, larger churches in surrounding towns. But not Ruby! For many years, even during long stretches when there was no pastor or congregation, Ruby would get dressed up on Sunday morning and walk the short distance down the road to open the church doors to any who might enter. She rang the bell, read from her Bible and sang praises to the Lord. Eventually, her unwavering dedication paid off. For several years, Smart's Chapel again had a pastor and a fine congregation.
Mrs. Clarida has seen and endured many things over the past century. Think of the history contained in that tiny woman! She has known the joy of watching children grow, as well as the sorrow of losing them. Betty and Gary both passed as youngsters. And in 1979, after 44 years of marriage, Mr. Clarida passed away.
Also preceding her in death were her sons, Lawrence James and Larry Gene; and brothers, Ted, Theodore, Paul and Jess Cravens.
Her brothers, Huey and Don Cravens, survive. Also surviving are Ray (Marcella) Clarida, their children, Steve Clarida, Bill (Nicole) Clarida, Rick (Joyce) Clarida, Ronald Clarida and Robert Alan (Carrie) Clarida; Linda (Noel) Howver and their children, Mike (Cindy) Howver, Jenny Bolten, Jim (Deb) Howver, Judy (John) Andreas and Jay (Jen) Howver; Lawrence James, deceased, (Lillian) and their children, James Clarida, Lisa (Ron) Craig and Tim Clarida; Larry Gene, deceased, (Linda Anne) and their children, Jeannie Adaszak, John (Christine) Clarida and Michelle (Tony) Koliopoulos; and David Lee and his daughter, Denise (Patrick) Bond.
From the grandchildren came so many great-grandchildren it is hard to keep count, although Ruby could recall and loved each and every one dearly. She was especially proud of those great-great-grandchildren, making up a plentiful fifth generation of Claridas.
Through good times and bad, Mrs. Clarida never lost her faith. She spent her widowed years growing beautiful, bountiful gardens, taking care of her endless variety of flowers, quilting and sewing (she once estimated upwards of 75 quilts), canning and freezing, fishing, crafting, cooking amazing meals and baking to feed anyone and everyone who came along. Anyone who left her home with an empty belly, it was that person's own fault!
Ruby once suggested this advice to live a good, long life: Don't smoke or drink alcohol, work hard, eat well, go to church and have a relationship with the Lord, and definitely "just keep busy."
She said that she enjoyed the past century and that the most important things in her life have not been things, but those she loves: Jesus, her husband, her children, all those grandkids and friends.
In the words of her family, "Until we meet again, Mom, Grandma and friend, we will miss you and cherish your impact on all of our lives."
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7, in Sloan Funeral Home in Galatia with the Rev. Gaylon Parks officiating. Burial will be in Brushy Cemetery in Harco. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, at the funeral home.