The latter hermana was also the recipient of Adelante’s César Chávez Humanitarian Award in 2005 [Visit: https://laprensatoledo.com/Photo%20Pages/Chavez%202005/
Sue Campos passed away on April 17, 2007, with a memorial scheduled for this April 17th.
Sonia Troche, Executive Director of Adelante, the Latino Resource Center, says the award is designed to be a Lifetime Achievement award in memory of César Estrada Chávez.
“For more than 60 years, Ruth García, through her activism, has made sure that voices of the Latino community were heard and that there were always opportunities for the Latino community.
“She is one of our local heroes. My generation has all but forgotten how activists like her took on the system to get where we are today. She was a leader in the struggle, and she has proven her impact. We were very fortunate to have had Ruth García and her sisters in our community,” says Troche.
Ruth García helped organize and served as president of Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Church in 1943. Beginning her activism at a young age, Ruth and her sisters rallied to the support of a Catholic priest who wanted to establish a church for Spanish-speaking residents. She married Fred S. Garcia, Sr. at the church that year. A veteran of World War II who served in the Pacific, he died in 1988.
She was also a board member of the Guadalupe Family Health Clinic and the Guadalupe Recreation Center.
In the 1970s, Ruth, who always fought against injustice, led the community against City Hall after the local government held up federal funds allocated for the barrio. The issue became a rallying point that generated exceptional political action by the community. After five years of struggle, the people of the barrio succeeded in erecting El Centro Unico, a community center providing an array of health and recreational services for neighborhood children and senior citizens.
Her voter registration drive in the Latino community is credited with having helped elect Marcy Kaptur to her first term in Congress—in November of 1982.
According to her son, Ruth García met César Chávez through Baldemar Velásquez of FLOC [the Farm Labor Organizing Committee] at a farmworkers gathering in Paulding, Ohio.
She also met and spoke with former Mexican president Vicente Fox and President George W. Bush during their visit to the Aurora L. González Center in the week preceding 9/11 . She presented Bush with numerous petitions, many relating to immigration issues.
As her son points out, Ruth García accomplished so many things because of her faith in divine providence. She came of age in an era when compulsory education was not mandatory in Ohio and very few Latino families thought twice about educating their daughters.
“My mother’s education was at St. Mary’s in Toledo and through the State of Ohio Civil Service Testing. Whenever she went to apply for a job, she had to take and pass a civil service examination. I remember her telling me that ‘I just said a prayer and passed the test.’
“She retired in 1988 after more than 26 years as a State of Ohio employee of the Toledo Board of Education in Food Service Management. She worked for many years as a baker for various restaurants and bakeries in Toledo. She worked at Toledo Box Lunch from 1937 to 1940 and at Willys Overland from 1940 to 1943,” said Fred García.
However, as often happens to a hometown hero, Ms. García was recognized nationally for her activism more than a decade before she received recognition locally. She received the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in October 1997 for her more than 50 years of community activism.
She has also been honored by numerous mayoral proclamations.
History of Ruth García and her familia
Fred García, Jr., is the oldest of the seven children of Ruth and Fred García, Sr. Like his father, he fought for his country. He is a Vietnam veteran who has won three purple hearts. After earning his undergraduate degree in México, he worked closely with his mother and his aunts on their many projects including La Voz del Barrio, the community service agency and newsletter.
“While everyone always heralded Toledo as an All-American city, my mother always saw it as a family-friendly city to immigrants, regardless if they spoke English or Spanish.
“We were a tight knit family,” recalls García. Three of his brothers are union reps: Ron García, formerly of the Blade and now with Lucas County; Raymond, who is at Johns Manville; and John, who is at Chrysler/Jeep, is active in the American Red Cross and went to Ground Zero in New York in the wake of 9/11 to aid in the cleanup efforts.
Their sister, Alice Sutton, a registered massage therapist, is Ruth’s guardian. Another sister, Ruth Ann Mohler, is a medical transcriptionist. She lives in Waterville.
Their brother Richard, a Vietnam veteran, died in a motorcycle accident some years ago.
Ruth has 20 grandchildren, one great grandchild and another on the way.