On the evening of April 19, 2014 Ruby Loella Smalec passed away peacefully of natural causes while comforted by family and staff at Prestige Place Senior Community in Clare. Ruby was 90 years young. Ruby was born May 20, 1923 at home in Perry. She was the third daughter of Henry Griffin “Pa” and Emma Banker. Ruby’s father was a carriage car operator and her mother operated a boarding house out of their home in Perry.
Ruby grew up during the great depression and even as a young child did everything she could to try to assist her family including collecting scrap metal with her wagon during the day to sell to the local junkyard. She had a secret spot no one knew about where she would find scrap metal every day and was always excited to fill her wagon and rush to the front gates to collect her nickel so she could bring it home to her family. One day after dropping off her wagon load she decided to take a different way home and to her amazement she saw scraps of metal flying over the junk yard fence exactly into her secret spot where she had found her metal scraps so many times before. She quickly loaded up her wagon and rushed back to the front gate. The owner and his son told her they wouldn’t be able to pay for any more scraps that day but assured her that if she came back the next day, they would gladly pay her and hinted that it sounded like she had found a pretty good spot and she should keep it a secret.
Ruby took acts of kindness to heart for the rest of her life after that day and anyone who has ever known her would attest to such. Ruby met her lifelong best friend Shirley in 1939 who she kept in touch with throughout her entire life. They had many adventures together and held true to their bond of friendship for 75 years and until her passing would still talk on the phone nearly every week. Ruby married the love of her life, Joseph Smalec on December 15, 1945 in a wedding ceremony performed at their friend’s Forrest and Aletha Vincent’s house in Grayling. Although they did not start out with much their love for each other was worth more to them than any monetary value.
Ruby gave birth to her only child Joanne on March 13, 1956. She was a master baker and friends, family and neighbors would regularly call on her to bake her famous breads, pies and cookies. Children from all over the neighborhood would stop by every day to see if she had any cookies or treats available; and she always did. Ruby attended Lansing Community College and took classes on solar and wind energy as well as conservation. Upon her husband Joseph’s retirement from General Motors she relocated to Harrison where she was actively involved not only in the design of their home but also the community. Ruby was a member of the Harrison Women’s Club, Lions Club, Ladies Auxiliary, Travel Club, and was a volunteer at the Clare Hospital.
Ruby was preceded in death by her sisters Sadie and Dorothy as well as her beloved husband Joseph “Joe”. She is survived by her daughter Joanne Salminen, and grandsons Ruben Salminen and Paul «Joe» (Merill Darling) Addy.
Visitation will held on Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 12 pm to 5 pm at the Clare Chapel of Stephenson-Wyman Funeral Home. A Funeral Service will be held at 5 pm with Pastor John Kasper officiating. Memorial contributions may be made in Ruby’s name to Central Michigan Public Broadcasting http://wcmu.org/support/. On-line guestbook at www.stephenson-wyman.com