Ruth Price Thomas, 94, of Uniontown, PA and formerly of Hibbs, PA, PAssed into the heavenly realms to be with her Lord in the early hours of Sunday, January 16, 2022. loving mother, grandmother, teacher, caregiver and musician.
Ruth was born to the late Reverend John A. Price and the late Elizabeth Sims Price on September 5, 1927. She received her early education in the local schools in Lamberton, PA and graduated from German Township Senior High in 1945.
Growing up, music was a major PArt of the day's activities in the Price household. Ruth played saxophone but showed great talent for the piano after taking lessons at a local church. Along with her younger sister Rosalyn, she played in a swing band on the weekends called the “Sentimental Sweethearts of Rhythm.” Ruth had a beautiful soprano voice and sang in her high school chorus and in various churches in the Tri-county area.
Following high school Ruth moved to New York to live with her sister, Mary Agnus, and assisted with caring for her nephew. While in New York, she accepted a civilian position at Mitchell Air Force Base. While employed there she was presented with the opportunity to work for the Air Force in Casablanca, Morocco in North Africa. She often spoke fondly and proudly about her experience of living overseas for four years.
After returning to the States, Ruth married Reverend Harold Ovelton. As first lady, she assisted him in the Lord’s service at John Wesley AME Zion Church in Uniontown PA and Soldiers’ Memorial AME Zion in Salisbury, North Carolina.
Ruth returned to Western PA, following her husband's death, and was employed by the Federal Government in Pittsburgh, PA and at the Fayette County Courthouse.
Ruth's entry into higher education came about after she had her family. She earned a Bachelor's degree in education with a minor in music from California State College (PA) in 1972. She often shared the story of accompanying community leaders to various school board meetings in Fayette, Westmoreland, and Washington Counties and encouraging them to hire more African American educators. As a result, Ruth received many offers, and accepted a position at the German Township Central Elementary School in McClellandtown, PA (re-named George Plava Elementary).
Ruth loved teaching and was loved by her students, as well! She was highly skilled in mathematics and reading. She also taught at Friendship Hill Elementary and German Township Junior/Senior High. After retirement she continued to teach children who were homeschooled or unable to attend school due to illness.
Even while teaching, her love of music continued. She encouraged family members, her children, her grandchildren, and her students to sing. “If you can talk, then you can sing,” she was known to say.
Ruth believed that her talent was meant to be shared, and it was shared throughout her life. She served as organist in many churches including the Union Baptist Church in New Salem, PA, the Combined Community Choir of Fairchance, and she was the Minister of Music for many years at her beloved home church, John Wesley AME Zion, where she remained a faithful member until her Passing. She also served as organist for the Muriel Lantz Funeral Home.
Ruth was a member and former matron of the Order of Eastern Stars (OES) Alpha Chapter #71, affiliated with Abram Lodge, AF & AM. She also served a two-year term as PTA president of the German Central Elementary School Parents and Teachers Association (PTA).
Several weeks ago, Ruth began telling family and staff at the Mt. Macrina Rehabilitation Facility that she was “going home. “She began talking a little less and singing a little more. She is now singing with the angels in heaven’s choir.
In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her husband, Rev. Harold Ovelton; former husband, Mack C. Thomas, Jr.; sisters: Francina Odell, Mary Agnes Glover, Bessie L. Davis; brothers: Frederick D. Price, Sr., John R. Price, Calvin D. Price, and granddaughter, Briawna Marie Long.
Left to cherish her memory are her daughters, Sheila (Rufus) Watkins, Linda (Charles) Hall, Riva (Eric) Tunstall, John (Hilda) Thomas; grandson Mark (Tennaz) Thomas, Sr., whom she helped raise; sister, Rev. Rosalyn Werner; 16 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren; one great-great grandchild; many nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends including the wonderful staff at Mt. Macrina Manor, where she resided for the past four years.
Friends will be received at the John Wesley A.M.E Church, 349 E. Main St., Uniontown, PA on Sunday, January 23rd from 5 PM – 7 PM, and Monday, January 24th at 11 AM, the hour of service. Interment will immediately follow at Edenborn Cemetery, Edenborn, PA.
Professional arrangements are entrusted to LANTZ Funeral Home, Inc., 297 E. Main St., Uniontown, PA. Condolences may be submitted thru www.lantzfh.com.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Mt. Macrina Manor, 520 W. Main St, Uniontown, PA 15401.