From Ruth’s own writing. Virginia Ruth Mae Benson was born at home near Raftville, Mo., in Texas County and delivered into this world by her oldest brother, W.C. “Bud” Benson, age 11 years old, while their dad C.E. Benson was yelling for the neighbor down the road to come help. Ruth always told Bud that was the most important thing he ever did in his life.
Ruth grew up walking on the farm and in the woods, looking for wildflowers and wild birds in spring and pretty rocks. She always had a pet that followed her around, a duck, chicken, or dog. Ruth graduated eighth grade from Ellsworth School in 1944. In 1948, Ruth graduated Licking High School in Licking. During Ruth’s teenage years in summer, she worked at the laundry at Fort Leonard Wood army camp in Missouri. Ruth worked with German POW’s. No conversations were allowed between prisoners of war and American employees. Just after finishing high school Ruth taught school at Ellsworth School in Texas County, Mo., for three weeks.
On July 6, 1949, Ruth Benson married Jake “J.L.” Corder, in Harrison, Ark., at the Methodist Church parsonage by the church’s pastor. Ruth and Jake honeymooned at Hot Springs, Ark. They stayed in a modern cabin named Bon Air Court in Mountain Berg, Ark. Cabin rentals were $3 per night.
On April 5, 1951, Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Corder bought their first house with a V.A. loan, in Doolittle, Mo., from builder, Walter Thomas. The Singing Greer Family, a gospel group was renting the house and had to relocate to another street in Doolittle to make room for Ruth and Jake. From 1951 to 1958 the Corders got involved with the town of Doolittle. Jake and Ruth founded the very first Doolittle Fire Department in 1951/1952. Ruth served as Doolittle City Treasurer, and on an all-women’s Mayor and town council. She also worked as an agent for Farmer’s Mutual Insurance, which became American Family Insurance and her business operated out of her kitchen. Ruth was very active on their 12.5-acre land. She raised chickens and sold eggs to people in the area. She often had the grass mowed and car washed before Jake got home at 8 a.m. from his 24-hour shift at Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department where he was crew chief by the early 1950s. Ruth and Jake enjoyed living in Doolittle and had just about everything except for children. After 9 years of marriage Ruth gave birth to their one and only child, Kim Edward Corder, in early 1958.
Ruth Corder was loved by all the young and teenage children who frequently visited her home in the 1950s starting with the Morris family, Kenny Morris, Kenny Hance, Butch Miner, Butch, Bob and Artie Henry. Near the end of December 1952, a first child was born to Ida and Everett Simms of Doolittle. Ruth and Jake were the first to see William “Billy” Simms after getting a phone call from Police Chief Everette Simms, who said, “Get over here and see our boy!” During Billy’s early years the family visited and made frequent phone calls to one another. Billy Simms was said to have been the reason Ruth and Jake wanted a child of their own.
In 1971, Jake retired from the Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department. In August 1972, the Corder family moved away to Salem, Mo. J.L. Corder passed away June 14, 1982, at Salem Hospital Emergency Room after suffering a sudden heart attack. This left Ruth a widow at 53 years of age. Ruth never wanted to remarry, although she had several proposals. Ruth always said she “only loved one man and he was Jake Corder.” During Ruth’s years in Salem, she served on the Salem Hospital Auxiliary Board. She attended meetings and even helped host a tour of the Ryder Mansion in rural Dent County to raise funds for the Salem Hospital to purchase a kidney machine during the years of 1973 and 1974.
Ruth’s best friends from high school were Edna Bates Smith, Thelma Jean Buckner-Wallace, and Laverne Buckner Sneed. Over the years Ruth maintained a close friendship with many of the friends she had from Licking High School. Many times, Ruth and Jake drove over to near Success to spend good times with Gladys and Ed Ward, W.C. “Bud,” and Mack Benson. Ruth was very close to her dad who died very suddenly of a blood clot at Menorah Hospital in the Kansas City area, on July 4, 1950. Ruth spent much time with her mother Mae Benson of Licking until her passing in June 1987.
Ruth was baptized into the Baptist faith at the First Baptist Church of Waynesville, then attended First Baptist in Newburg. She later was a member of Mount Olive Baptist Church in Doolittle. During her years in Salem, Ruth and Jake attended Oak Grove Baptist Church. Ruth’s Salem friends were Jane Noblin, Pauline Shelton, Clara Inman, Alice and Vessie Wisdom, Myrna Hansen, Jerri Cubbage and Mike Williams. Ruth also helped an older gentleman who Jake had helped since the Corders bought a home near Mr. Walter Goddard. Ruth knew all her neighbors. Nina Phillips later moved into the neighborhood. Nina and Ruth kept in close daily contact. Nina and Pauline Shelton both passed away in 2010. The last years of Ruth’s life were spent calling and visiting her beloved sister, Gladys Ward Sells. Gladys passed away on December 31, 2019. After that Ruth tended to her hobbies and kept in touch with family.