Gates—Ruth Estelle Taber Gates, 91, on July 23, 2019, peacefully, in East Providence, R.I., a few weeks after joyously celebrating with her extended family her upcoming ninety-second birthday. Ruth was born on July 27, 1927, in Greenfield, Mass. She graduated from Northfield School, where she enjoyed volleyball, basketball, and choral singing. With a bachelor’s in nursing from Simmons College, she started her first job as a visiting nurse in Worcester, Mass. She met Don Gates in a non-Quaker church youth group in 1952 and married him after a brief courtship, just before he was called up for military service. They later joined Worcester Meeting, transferring to Providence Meeting when they moved to Rhode Island in 1960.
She took a break from nursing while raising their four children, pouring her energy into her family. Her children could always find her in the kitchen, where they helped her bake cherry pies or can applesauce and tomatoes from the garden. Providence Meeting counted on Ruth’s pies for potluck meals or on meeting workdays. She taught First-day school and served on the Sewing Committee. She quietly drew in meeting newcomers, introducing them to others and involving them in help with coffee hour.
Caring for others was central to her life. Her nursing jobs most often involved visiting new mothers and newborns. After she retired in 1982, she cared for an elderly aunt, and then for Don during his final illness in 2008. Friends remember her quiet, steady presence; her caring visits when a new baby joined a meeting family; her warm sense of humor; her practical assistance with tasks that went almost unnoticed but sustained the meeting community; and her authentic example of how to live a good life.
She lived in the faithful assurance of God’s living presence reflected in Psalm 139, which was read at her memorial meeting: “O Lord, you have searched me and known me. . . .” Her daughter also read one of Ruth’s favorite poems: Annie Johnson Flint’s “God Hath Not Promised,” and Friends sang “In the Garden,” a hymn that she had asked to have sung and one that captures her life in both practical and spiritual terms. Her long life was anchored in her Christian faith and in the small but abundant garden that she and Don lovingly tended. Providence Friends are grateful for her many gifts to their community.
Ruth is survived by four children, Stephen Gates, Alan Gates, Joel Gates, and Amy Quigley; and a sister, Alice Dole.