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Ruth Rowe reflects on a century well-lived

Gloucester resident Ruth Rowe, who turned 100 on Monday, recently looked back on a life filled with joy, sadness and service to others.

Born Ruth Diggs on June 13, 1916 in the Diggs area of Mathews, Ruth was the daughter of Lottie “Gertrude” Owens and Joseph “Butts” Diggs—a “ne’er-do-well” who deserted the family when Ruth was just four years old.

“He came and stood at the door and kissed mother and me, and he left,” said Ruth.

The family was living in Newport News at the time because Butts had established a business in the city. Stranded, Gertrude, four months pregnant with Ruth’s brother, Weldon, and with no way to call home in those early-20th-century days of few telephones, had to scramble to find a way to return to Mathews.

Once back in Mathews, Gertrude and Ruth stayed with Butts’s parents for a bit, but it was Gertrude’s family that really came through for the young mother and her family. Her oldes...

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