Home Records Obituaries Ruth Margarete Sittig Gervais

Ruth Margarete Sittig Gervais


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Ruth Margarete Sittig Gervais, age 91, passed away on August 24th in Roswell, NM. She was born in 1930 to Franz Max Sittig and Margarete Seyfarth Sittig in Oradell, NJ. Her parents emigrated from Germany to the U.S. in 1929. In 1932 she was aboard ship across the Atlantic as her mother took her along for a visit to relatives in Germany. She was bilingual when she entered kindergarten at age 5. She had a happy childhood in the pastoral peace of the the northern N.J. woodlands just 10 miles from NYC across the Hudson River. There was ice skating on Magee’s Pond in winter with a blazing bonfire on shore. Playing badminton and croquet in summer and watching area polo teams practice their sport at a local field on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Ruth volunteered at the town’s one room library heated by a pot-bellied stove. In 6th grade she corresponded for years with an Acoma Pueblo Indian, arranged by her teacher. He signed his card, “I am your very truly friend.”

At age 14 she was confirmed in the Lutheran Church. In 1946 she had a pen pal from Ecuador who wrote to her in Spanish. She was news editor of her high school newspaper and graduated as valedictorian from Dumont High School in 1948.

She graduated from the University of Vermont in 1952. She received the German Prize for Excellence with double majors in German and English. Ruth decided to become a teacher because of the outstanding role models she had.

Her first teaching job was in a rural school built in the 1800’s in Shoreham VT on Lake Champlain. She was 1 of 3 high school teachers for 47 students.

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She married Robert H. Gervais in 1952 when he was a third year medical student at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in NYC. In 1953 they lived in Weehawken NJ near the historic Palisades. They had a view across the Hudson of the panorama of Manhattan Island. Ruth taught German and English at Teaneck NJ Jr. Sr. High School. Robert commuted via bus, tunnel and subway to medical school. He received his M.D. in 1954.

Many moves followed for 23 years at the Universities of Miami, New Mexico and Florida while her husband pursued his career objectives.

During his internship at Orlando, Ruth taught 2nd grade in Apopka FL. After a residency in Internal Medicine in Miami, they moved to Fort Smith AK where Dr. Gervais served as a Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps for 2 years at Fort Chaffee.

For the next 6 years they lived in Bradenton, FL where Dr. Gervais practiced family medicine. By now the family included 3 daughters and 1 son. They lived in an old Florida house on the bank of the mile wide Manatee River with cross-ventilation from river breezes instead of air conditioning which led to wonderful sleeping.

In Gainesville, FL the family lived across a dirt road from a 16 horse riding stable. The children all learned English style riding. Ruth went trail riding 3 times a week on their young Appaloosa gelding.

At the next move to Albuquerque, the family drove into NM on then 2 lane Rt 66. From a North Valley adobe along the Rio Grande, they moved to the East Mountains to a country house on a ridge with a 70 mile view of the Jemez and Sangre de Cristo.

When the family moved back to Gainesville at the University of Florida, Ruth worked for 3 years as a barn manager at the riding stable while their 4 horses were boarded there.

They lived in a Southern Colonial with pillars until they moved to a modern Florida house in a forested glen with wild plum trees. The property abutted a large swamp where they met all the resident swamp critters.

The family moved to Roswell in 1976. Ruth raised 2 Arabian mares from birth. She also kept a small Nubian Dairy Goat herd, the Nile herd, for over 30 years as a Life member of the American Dairy Goat Assn. She maintained the breed character of the desert Nubian, not mixed with other breeds. Ruth became a member of the Chaves Co Med Society Auxiliary.

Her greatest satisfactions were her family, home, garden and animals. In addition to the horses, the children grew up with a German Pointer, 2 Weimaraners, a German Shepherd, a Standard Poodle and several cats. A traditional wife, she took care of her husband so he could take care of others in his medical field. She enjoyed music: classical, jazz, flamenco, country western, zither music and loved yodeling. She had an extensive library and loved history.

She came away from her life remembering the many people; strangers, acquaintances, friends who crossed their lives with kindness and help.

She was pre-deceased by her loving parents.

Survivors include her husband, Dr. Robert H. Gervais, her sister, Edith Sittig of New Jersey and her children and their spouses: Pamela Gervais (Eric Rittenhouse); Loret Paxton (Larry); Thomas Gervais (Sarah); Carole Gervais M.D. (David Gibson); and 9 grandchildren.

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