WARD’S GROVE, Tenn. (BP)–Rubye Williams, 93, has been honored for 70 years of Woman’s Missionary Union service at Ward’s Grove Baptist Church where she has been a member since 1933.
“Through praying, doing and giving she provides an example for us to follow,” Cindy Leach, WMU director for the Madison-Chester Baptist Association in west Tennessee, said in presenting a plaque to Williams during the church’s annual Thanksgiving Service.
“Missions are important to her. She is one of a kind!” Leach said.
“Regardless of the weather or her health, she never misses,” Brenda Henley, the church’s WMU director, said. “I’ve even heard one young man call her the ‘Godmother of our church — the matriarch.'” Regardless of what is going on or what is scheduled, “Mrs. Rubye,” as she is known, is always ready to go – even on a recent trip to Ridgecrest (N.C.) LifeWay Conference Center during a mission emphasis week.
Wherever she goes, there is always someone who knows her. Hundreds — if not thousands of students — benefited from her 45-year career as a teacher, principal and supervisor in Madison and Henderson counties.
Mrs. Rubye taught Henley, for example, in the eighth grade at Spring Creek School. “I didn’t like recess, so Mrs. Rubye would allow me to stay inside and draw posters for her. At that time in my life, I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence. She would brag on my artistic work — which I know wasn’t very good. But to a child, this did so much to give me the encouragement I so needed. Truly, she has been my mentor, as well as for many others.”
Years later, when Henley became an educator herself and was student teaching, Mrs. Rubye became her supervisor. “She has been like a thread woven throughout my life.”
Married 54 years to John Williams (now deceased), the couple was instrumental in the growth of Ward’s Grove Baptist Church.
Williams recalled how the church raised money for a special mission offering during the Depression. “No one had any money. If a man could earn 50 cents a day, he was fortunate. Our church wanted to take a mission offering, but couldn’t raise the funds. Someone suggested we donate chickens — especially hens. I remember a farmer loaded coops in his truck, drove around to the farms and collected hens. On delivering these to Butt’s Poultry, we received a generous amount for missions.”
During the church’s two-week summer revivals, she and her husband always prepared meals for the visiting evangelist and song leader. “During the revival, the community attended the morning and evening service,” Mrs. Rubye recounted. “Several families would take turns inviting people to their homes for fellowship, country cooking and garden vegetables. No other events were scheduled — revival time took priority. …
“I have been so blessed,” Mrs. Rubye said. “I love our church and its people. God has been so good to me.”
She continues to reside on the family farm in the Ward’s Grove community east of Jackson, next door to her son, John, and wife, Jane.
Matt Tomlin, Ward’s Grove pastor, said Mrs. Rubye has served on almost every committee during his 19 years at the church.
“She is one of the most faithful members, even when it’s difficult for her to attend,” Tomlin said. “Like so many others, I count her as one of my best friends.”