Remembering Ruth Hart

Soon after Ruth Hart was selected by the Essex County Bar Association to receive its annual Liberty Bell Award in the spring of 2016, the Lake Placid News asked her about the one community service project she was most proud of during her life in Lake Placid. She didn’t hesitate.

“Well, and I share this with Peter Roland and Rhonda Preston, stopping Walmart from coming in,” she said, “which would have absolutely ruined our Main Street and spoiled that magnificent vista where you come into town with a view of Whiteface Mountain.”

During that five-year battle, starting in 1994 and ending in 1998 when Walmart pulled out of Lake Placid and set its sights on Saranac Lake, Mrs. Hart was an active member of the Residents for Responsible Growth, which was established to fight the Walmart development, originally proposed at 80,000 square feet and scaled down to 58,000 square feet before being scrapped.

Asked about her philosophy on community service, why she was so active in improving the village, town and county, Mrs. Hart said she simply wanted to “save all the loveliness” in this section of the Adirondack Park.

“I guess, the bottom line, that’s it, to save and enhance all the lovely things that are here,” she said.

Mrs. Hart — who died on April 25 at the age of 104 — liked to defray the spotlight away from herself, focusing instead on others — her late husband Dr. George Hart, her four daughters and members of the community. Yet she did so much to improve life in Lake Placid, and she deserves to be celebrated.

With all her contributions to Lake Placid since moving here in the 1940s, one could argue that Mrs. Hart is a role model for girls and women — and boys and men — of all ages, but she didn’t see it that way.

“Heavens no,” she said in 2016.

We remember attending Mrs. Hart’s 100th birthday party on May 2, 2019, at the Crowne Plaza and seeing the joy on her face. After two hours of hugs, kisses and reminisces, she sat on a chair in front of the fireplace. She’d blown out her “100” candles with the help of a great-grandson and finished her piece of cake and cup of tea. Rolling around a piece of hard candy in her mouth, she was soaking in the final moments of the party.

“This is wonderful, just to see so many people,” she said.

For most of her life, birthday parties didn’t interest Mrs. Hart; that was her husband’s thing. Yet, when she turned 99, she approved of a community birthday party like the one a year later.

Perhaps grandson Hart Shouldice said it best during his speech at the 100th birthday party:

“I think it’s fair to say, Grandma, to your family, you are a hero. To this community, you are an absolute pillar. And, Grandma, to all of us, you are an absolute treasure. So happy birthday.”

She would have turned 105 years old on Friday, May 3. Happy birthday, Mrs. Hart. Thank you for everything.


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