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Topic: RIP Ruth Strong Reynolds
Message: Posted by: Freak Prodigy (Oct 30, 2010 01:21PM)
I'm very sad to hear this news, here is a piece John Strong wrote;

"My mother was born on March 11, 1917 and she just passed on 10/28/2010 at 9:30 pm or the equivalent of 34,199 days or 93.63 years. She was born in Long Island, New York. She had two older sisters and one older brother. Her father told her mother not to ever cage this one in because no cage would hold her.

My mother matured into a very striking, statuesque woman with the body and mind of steel She married at 24 to a high ranking officer in the Air Corps named Herbert Feld. Her husband came from a billionaire insurance agency family from Long Island. My mother came from a very poor working class family. My mother had one son with her husband Herbert in the second year of their marriage. In the third year of their marriage, her husband, herself and two friends were in a devastating accident when a drunk driver ran them off the road en route to a USO party. They were in a convertible. Herbert flew over the windshield and hit his head on a tree. My mother with three broken ribs ripped her skirt off and put his brains back in his skull. He passed on the third day in a coma at 27. Three months later, their less than 2 year old son passed with pneumonia as well. My mom buried her family in Long Island and decided to move to Hollywood, Ca.

She inherited from her husband's estate a small fortune for those times. She purchased a home Irva Ave. and Vine St. up by the Hollywood sign. She worked in a hospital and drove a Packard. She helped in the polio epidemic in World War II. After a few years working in Hollywood, she met a very tall, debonair man from Sweden. She herself was Norwegian and very taken by this stranger.

That was my father, Big John Strong. He just moved from Jamestown, NY to across the street from my mom. My entire family was there too, including my aunts and John Strong I. Lucille Ball moved him and his entire family to be close to Lucille because my dad's sister was her best friend growing up and wanted her to be close to her.
My dad married my mom in 1947. My mom asked my dad what he wanted to do with his life. My father, an inspiring actor, said his real goal in life was to own a circus. My mother asked why didn't he own a circus if that's what his goal was. My dad said that a lot of people think of circus people as gypsies or carnival people. My mom said "Nonsense! If you do a good show and entertain the people, you will always be welcomed back." So, then, my parents started as concessionaires working small festivals and parades selling snow cones, pop corn and cotton candy. My mom's idea was to put the food concessions into movie theatres, specifically Fox West Coast. Fox's response was "and ruin our beautiful carpeting?" They eventually started a dog and pony circus with their circus because they wanted the exclusivity of their food concessions with their own show. My mom trained the dog and the pony to a riding dog act. My dad did the M/Cing and hired on other acts. They mostly toured the schools in Los Angeles before branching out as a free family circus at major west coast fairs.

My parents also went to many Hollywood parties thanks to Lucille Ball. They met the likes of John Wayne and H.G. Wells. John Wayne wanted to dance with her. My mom was a classy lady always dressed impeccably. She was not afraid to do the dirty work around the circus, train the animals, and take care of her family. My dad and her tried to have children. She lost five of them through miscarriages. She didn't think she could ever carry them through. So, she adopted two girls, Sandy and Linda Strong. I was premature 8 months and made it, even with a heart murmur. They named me John Augustus Jones Strong after Augustus Jones, the first showman to take an entire circus in one railroad car.

My mother tied her three children to the circus seats and performed the animal acts and concessions in the circus. As we got older, we were taught acts to perform in the circus. As we got school age, we went to the school in the winter and worked the circus on weekends, holidays and summer vacation. I remember at our home in winter quarters in Thousand Oaks that she loved to garden, cook and dry her clothes on a long clothesline in the enclosed yard.
She was an avid reader and also good at poetry and art. My mother used to wear big hats while she was trimming the ivy. We had a small jungle behind the house, but she would never be without her lipstick and being put together. She believed in principals and quality more than quantity. She instilled good values in her children and family. Though very wealthy, she was very conservative in her living habits and always conscious on the value of a dollar. She would always say that she would rather give you the fishing pole and teach you how to bait the hook than the fish and you lose the fish. However, for my thirtieth birthday, she bought me an elephant and elephant trailer and diesel truck. She could be generous, but only sporadically. I believe she gave me the elephant only because she helped my step father so in his chosen profession.

The elephant turned out to be more of a pain than an asset. The diesel truck and trailer kept us going an additional 13 years. My mother always said "give me results, not excuses." My mother built one of the first Taco Bells in California on Thousand Oaks Blvd. She also built an automotive center, a bar, a landscaping business and a circus on the same property as Taco Bell. She bought a piece of property for $14,000 and sold the 3.4 acres 45 years later for $3.5 million. She was a very smart business woman, but never strove to make more money. It just seemed to come at her from every which way. She had blue chip stocks and bonds. She still has in her trust. She had a small interest in the San Fransisco Air Lot parking lot. She helped her 3rd husband buy large pieces of property in Fillmore, CA and Amarillo, TX.

Though she had many sorrows and hardships in her life, she tried to make the best of any situation. Losing her first husband was the most sorrowful. Losing five babies with my father was very sorrowful as well. She was very strong willed. She was always kind to people. She would not let people take advantage of her or her family. She was really healthy until she was 78 years old. Always she was exercising, eating right and staying healthy.
She met her 3rd husband at 76, who ironically is 76 right now and not nearly in the same shape. My mom at 78 could run marathons. When she was 79, she found out she had colon cancer. Doctors removed 23% of her colon and saved her life. At 80, she fell and broke her help. She never walked without a cane or a walker again. At 82, she suffered a devastating stroke that affected her conscious thinking. At 92 she found out she had lung cancer. My mom never
smoked, but she lived in downtown Los Angeles for 60 years, which might have an effect on one's lungs.

What I found with my mom is that she got even nicer and sweeter in her golden years. She spent time on making people feel good and encouraging people. When she was 90, we were able to buy her a house that's wheel chair accessible with central air and heat. Since she couldn't read anymore, she loved to listen to classic music and watch the Golden Girls on TV. With the devastating stroke, she could only see shadows. She'd always tell people to get her glasses when the Golden Girls was on. She did not want to make a fuss out out of it. She always made the best out of a bad situation.

I visited mom several times in California, even though most of my business was on the East Coast these last few years. My sisters and I did a lot to bring in a lot to make her comfortable. We brought in 24hr caretakers. The last one was exceptional. Karen, an African American gal, became part of the family. Ms. Barbara Knight has been an exceptional
executor of her estate. She has driven thousands of miles to take care of her special needs.

I was very fortunate to fly from NYC to see my mom two weeks ago and hold her hand hoping her to see and hear how much she was loved and appreciated for all her giving to all the people who touched her life.

I feel you are all a product of your environment. The encouragement that was given to me from my mom and her teachings on right and wrong stays with you a lifetime. Her morals, standards and good will will live on through her legacy. What more can I say she was my friend, my protector, my mother: Ruth Strong Reynolds.

John Strong III"
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Oct 31, 2010 10:20AM)
A life well spent. Deep sympathies to John. She will be remembered in so many ways...if only for the joy the Circus brought but from grateful hearts who knew her.
Message: Posted by: Todd Robbins (Oct 31, 2010 10:24AM)
Ruth was a great woman. I spent a bit of time with her out in Coney Island when Bobby Reynolds had his museum show there. She was a quiet dignified woman that was filled with charm and strength. When she spoke, you listened. And you were always better off for having done so. This is truly a great loss.
Message: Posted by: sideshowsam (Oct 31, 2010 10:41PM)

Sorry for your loss.

RIP Ruth

Message: Posted by: Utah_Showman (Oct 31, 2010 11:02PM)
A Great Woman joined a Great Man on that Great Eternal Midway. God bless you Ruth and God be with the family you left behind. My prays are with all of you.

John Robinson