Ruth Brackney

Honored by:Carol J. Turner
Brick location:A:1  map

Born September 13 1900 in her parents' home in Clemons Iowa the warm vivacious lovely Ruth had everything--an adoring family intelligence popularity. Then during her college years at Defiance College Defiance Ohio she discovered an incurable hereditary disease retinitis pigmentosa was taking her sight. That discovery changed her life and the lives of hundreds of the blind in Iowa. There were undoubtedly tears but from those tears came the determination to in Ruth's words "be the best darn blind person." Because she could pass the disease on to her descendants Ruth broke her engagement to be married and gave up any hope of a family of her own. Instead she became a second mother to her sister's sons and another grandmother to those sons' children. More importantly Ruth indulged in her passion for education graduating from Defiance College in 1924 attending various graduate schools as she taught high schools throughout Illinois over the next few years participating in several short-term courses at the Iowa School for the Blind in Vinton and completing a year-long course at the Overbrooke School for the Blind in Philadelphia. In 1949 Ruth moved to Des Moines and became the first "home teacher" for the Iowa Commission for the Blind. Traveling around the state she literally took the Commission to the people meeting with the Iowa blind in their own homes teaching them Braille and crafts and independent living. And showing them by example just how much -- and how little -blindness mattered. By the time of her mandatory retirement in December 1965 Ruth's efforts had helped make the Iowa Commission for the Blind the "premier" of services in the country. In retirement Ruth has remained active and vital and has traveled as much as means has allowed including a return visit to Defiance College in 1984 where the college awarded Ruth an Honorary Doctor of Letters for her life accomplishments. Ruth passed away in her sleep on January 13 1995 at the age of 94. 7/1/96