Ruth Ann Kross Memorial Scholarship Fund

Providing scholarship assistance within the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware


Learn About Ruth Ann Kross

Ruth Ann (Hayden) Kross was born on the eve of the “Great Depression,” on August 24, 1928. Her mother, Margaret Cecelia (Hogan) Hayden, was of Irish/German/Swiss/Swedish descent whose roots in northern Delaware could be traced to the early 17th Century. Ruth’s distant ancestor, Timen Stiddem, was among the first settlers of northern Delaware, sailing aboard the Kalmar Nyckel to “New Sweden” (Wilmington, Delaware) in 1638. Her father, Frances (“Frank”) L. Hayden, was of similar ancestry also with a long history in the First State. Together, Margaret and Frank formed a bond in marriage that lasted a lifetime.

At a young age, Ruth Ann moved with her parents from Wilmington to the Richardson Park area, Ruth Ann circa 1932a sparsely populated and wooded locale in the early 1930s. A few neighbors bordered their small white clapboard house, but to Ruth Ann the most distinctive feature of the neighborhood was the evening sound of the railroad passing in the distance.

There, Ruth Ann would spend the next 20 years through the turbulent years of the “Great Depression” and World War II. Times were difficult during the “Depression”; millions of workers were unemployed, and material goods, and occasionally even food, were scarce. Despite the hardships, however, the Hayden family persevered as best they could, and when able, helped their neighbors.

On occasion, men riding the rails in search of work would knock on the door of their modest home asking for something to eat. Ruth Ann’s mother always provided, even if only a slice of bread and jam. Through such acts, Ruth Ann learned life lessons of kindness, charity and responsibility to her neighbors and all God’s children.

In that white clapboard house, Ruth Ann would spend her childhood accompanied by her beloved dog Ruth Ann and Pat circa 1941“Patrick,” so named because he first appeared on St. Patrick’s Day. Patrick, or “Pat,” would accompany Ruth Ann to elementary school in the morning and meet her at the end of the school day often grabbing her hat and running ahead and then waiting for her to follow.

In some ways, those difficult years of the “Depression,” though marked by privation, reinforced the importance of faith and Christian values, which many families would need as World War II approached.

Indeed, tragedy touched the Hayden family during the War when Ruth Ann’s favorite uncle was killed after his ship was torpedoed by a German submarine (“U boat”). She would later tell of “Uncle Paul’s” premonition of “not coming home” and how together they sang “I’ve Got Sixpence” in the back of the car on his last leave home. Today, “Uncle Paul’s” final resting place is marked in Carthage, Tunisia.

Like many young people during the War, Ruth Ann aided the “home front” by conserving food and gasoline and sending special packages to servicemen overseas. One of her former teachers, a pilot in the Army Air Corps, corresponded with Ruth Ann although the letters abruptly stopped when he was declared “missing in action.” Fortunately, he had parachuted to safety.

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Ruth Ann - age 22During the latter part of the War, Ruth Ann attended H. C. Conrad High School in Woodcrest where she grew into a slender, dark-haired beauty with hazel eyes and porcelain complexion.

Despite her humble beginnings, Ruth Ann also developed refined tastes and many talents. As a young woman, she danced ballet at the Hotel DuPont Theater and her artwork was exhibited in Wilmington. She loved learning and found great enjoyment in reading, interior design, and architecture, which appealed to her artistic spirit.

However, opportunities were often limited for young women at the time, especially descendents of poor Irish Catholic or German immigrants as was Ruth Ann. Nevertheless, she persevered and found fulfillment in helping her mother and father financially and in other ways. She worked hard and finally saved enough money to attend Goldey-Beacom Business College.

Ruth Ann would soon make good use of her hard-earned education as anRuth Ann at the Continental - 1953 administrative assistant and treasury officer at Continental American Insurance Company in Wilmington. There she worked from 1948 until the birth of her son in 1955, truly enjoying her career and association with the company’s officers. With her interest in interior design and architecture, she also took great pleasure in the classical designs of the “Continental” building located just off Rodney Square.The Continental American

One of the company’s officers, E.I. DuPont, or “Mr. DuPont” as Ruth Ann called him, would on occasion, order a glass of milk for her at lunch when she was expecting her son. Ruth Ann respected her colleagues, and they, in turn, respected her considerable abilities.

Of course, few of the business scions in Wilmington, at that time, were descendent from poor Irish Catholic or German immigrants as was Ruth Ann. However, being a “Catholic girl” was, in fact, considered an advantage at “Continental” even in those less enlightened times. In fact, there’s a good chance she was hired because of it.

Ruth Ann applied to the company after seeing an ad in the Wilmington newspaper. She did so, with not a little trepidation, however, because she was, despite her many talents, naturally modest and assumed another candidate would surely be chosen.

She needn’t have worried. On the appointed day, Ruth Ann asked the white-gloved doorman at the Hotel DuPont where the “Continental” offices were located. She found it, her interview went well and she excelled on the written exam. Still, Ruth Ann was sure someone else would be hired.

However, later that evening Ruth Ann’s mother received a call asking if her daughter could start to work next week. According to the caller, “Continental” preferred to hire “Catholic girls” because, the story goes, they were conscientious and “accurate with figures.” In Ruth Ann’s case, at least, both were true.

Ruth Ann’s mother replied, that, yes, her daughter could start work next week and would “always try her best.” And she did.

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Luckily for John, her future husband, and Jay, her yet-to-be-born son, Ruth Ann would often shop in the nearby stores in Wilmington during her lunch hour. And that is where John saw his “Ruthie” for the first time. It was love at first sight, at least for John, although it took Ruth Ann over 3 years to appreciate all the merits of her suitor. But she did, and after a long courtship, finally say “Yes.”

At first, however, John didn’t know Ruth Ann’s name, or even where she lived. All he had was the fleeting glimpse Ruth Ann and John 1952of her before she disappeared into the lunch-hour crowds. But John could – and would – never forget her face.

Smitten, John paced block after city block searching for her, but it wasn’t until the following year that he saw Ruth Ann again at a dance. This time, though, he would never let her go.

He would routinely “hitch a ride” from his Marine Corp base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to Wilmington to see his “Ruthie.” Of course, this was before interstate highways sped motorists to their destination so John would spend much of his weekend leave “thumbing a ride” on back roads. On most weekends, he was successful, and persuaded passing motorists to give a lift to a lovesick Marine.

Finally, a June wedding was planned, in St. Mathew’s Roman Catholic Church, and Ruth Ann set to work preparing. As always, Ruth Ann was meticulous in her preparation. She designed her wedding dress and wedding cake. She organized the reception party. She even made suggestions to beautify the church interior, including flowers and a carpet for her walk down the aisle.

She brought her great organizational skills to bear to ensure that June 5, 1954 would be a happy, beautiful, memorable day. For that was Ruth Ann, always “trying her best,” always striving for beauty in life regardless of the obstacles.

Of course, some obstacles are more daunting and authoritative than others. On her wedding day, for example, the founding pastor of St. Mathew’s Church, Father Foley, an imposing figure for whom the neighboring auditorium is named, decreed there would be no carpet in the church, wedding or not.

Ruth Ann accepted the decision, but others in the wedding party were less obedient. One of John’s relatives, a former sailor in World War II, took Ruth Ann aside and confided, “Ruth, if you want that carpet, you are going to have it.”

And with that, the carpet was unfurled down the aisle and soon Ruth Ann, accompanied by her father, gracefully approached the altar in her wedding dress with the carpet underfoot.

Father Foley’s thoughts went unrecorded.

But the wedding proceeded as planned and a reception for almost 200 guests followed fueled by joy and liquid refreshment and polka music long into the night; an occasion to be remembered a lifetime.

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Ruth Ann readies for her wedding Ruth Ann on her way to the church
Ruth Ann and John wed Mr. and Mrs, John Kross

Ten months later their joy was compounded by the arrival of a son affectionately named by his mother, “Jay”.

Jay at 18 monthsHe was the most fortunate boy for he had the perfect mother who guided and taught him the true meaning of love. Ruth Ann loved her son with a full heart and her mother’s love was returned in full measure and still is to this day.

Ruth Ann and Jay were more than mother and son. Together they would ride on the bus from Newport to Wilmington or simply walk around the neighborhood content in each other’s company. They were “pals” and remain so.

She was supremely proud of her son and taught him the life lessons she had learned of love, devotion, charity, and Jay and Ruth Ann Easter 1957perseverance. No child ever had a better teacher for Ruth Ann’s life exemplified those virtues.

Following her son’s birth, Ruth Ann took leave from “Continental” and devoted the next 16 years to the care of her family, resuming her career only after assuring her son’s and husband’s happiness and life path. She retired in 1987.

She always maintained her interests in interior design and architecture, as manifested in her stylish home, but received the greatest satisfaction from her family’s happiness and accomplishments. Ruth Ann was endlessly devoted to them.

She derived great pride from her son’s career as a medical writer/editor, and beamed when he was named Senior Contributing Editor with a science magazine; the fulfillment of her emphasis on learning and education. She had bought her son his first telescope and countless astronomy books that fueled his imagination as a boy.

Throughout her life, Ruth Ann was always there when her family needed her. And they were there for her when she suffered a life-threatening illness in 1999. Despite setbacks, Ruth Ann never complained and displayed the same courage and perseverance over the next 7 years that characterized her entire life. Through it all, she remained the same loving, tender, yet wise and refined lady until the day she left this earth.

Ruth Ann passed away peacefully at Heartland Hospice House in Pike Creek, DE on Saturday, March 10, 2007 surrounded by those she loved and loved her. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in the same church where she had been married, and she was laid to rest in All Saints Cemetery near the parents she loved so dearly.

Now, Ruth Ann’s soul resides with God and with those she loved and preceded her to Paradise. However, for those that abide here still, her spirit surrounds us and abides in our hearts. For her husband and son, she remains the light of their life, warmly beckoning them, lighting their path, and guiding them to her loving arms again.

While on this earth, Ruth Ann led a good life, or more correctly, a life well worth emulating. Her deeds on this earth exemplified the Christian values of love, devotion, charity, and perseverance.

Many could benefit from her example of a life well lived. For those who did not know Ruth Ann, and for the generations to come, her son Jay has established a Memorial Fund and Scholarship in her name in cooperation with the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington so that her good works, which distinguished her time on earth, will continue in perpetuity.

A reading from Proverbs 31:

“A good woman is…worth far more than diamonds…
She takes good care of her family…
Her children praise her and with great pride her husband says,
“ ‘There are many good women, but you are the best.’ ”


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