Smith: Remembering Ruth Page

Oct 31, 2016

For many years, Ruth Page, with her husband, Proctor Page, owned and published the Suburban List, a Chittenden County weekly newspaper. Later, Page became editor of National Gardening Magazine, which led to a nationally-syndicated public radio program, "Ruth Page's Gardening Journal," which in turn led to a book.

Her voice was distinctive, rather like a cross between a really smart teacher and a loving parent just about out of patience. In fact, she didn't think her voice was good enough and had to be talked into the idea of speaking on the radio. But her background as a journalist and editor made her a stickler for accuracy and good writing. Her life in Vermont made her environmentally aware. Her care for family and community made her a seeker and promoter of healthy, responsible choices. And her voice was her own.

For twenty years, beginning in 1990, Ruth Page contributed commentaries to VPR, focusing on environmental issues. She was fascinated by the natural world and upset by actions that damaged or threatened it. And she often saw potential problems well ahead of the rest of us.

In August of 2010, in one of her last commentaries, she warned listeners that:

"At least sixty percent of the human body is water, and we all need clean drinking water every day. Some 2.5 billion people worldwide don't have access to ample fresh water. So — if, like me, you can look out the window and see Lake Champlain, or any of Vermont's other lovely lakes, make yourself keep in mind that we mustn't waste the water. It's a precious resource, and there isn't any more."

Click here for the archive of Page's commentaries for VPR

But Page also had a lively sense of humor and a keen eye for beauty. I like to recall her many commentaries in which she simply wrote about what she saw on her daily walks down local back roads. In one late autumn walk, after admiring what was left of the leaves, she couldn't resist adding a typical admonition.

"In a few spots there were still quite a few gleaming leaves left on the trees, too, so in a nearby park I was able to walk up a cathedral aisle lined with pure gold. For a few minutes I forgot how cold I was. It's amazing how rewarding Nature can be, even alongside paved roads. Here's an added note: I picked up a couple of clean, empty beer cans to turn in; if we all do this, it will help the environment."

Ruth Page is survived by her three children, Candace, Patti Ruth, and Robert; as well as Candace's husband Hamilton Davis; Patti's husband Steven Stitzel; Robert's wife Lori Page; and grandchildren.