Douglas Ruth was born in Oxnard, California, on December 22, 1953, to Paul and Corinna Ruth. Douglas, better known as Doug, began his education in Reedley, California, where he received honors in the elementary and high school band, lettered on the tennis team, and excelled in his academic subjects as well. His accolades in creative writing were many and his poetry and prose were later published, but he was equally talented in drawing, painting, and sculpture. He went fishing and hiking with his family and, among other places, conquered the lows at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the highs of Mt. Whitney in California.
Although Doug was an intelligent, well-rounded young man, an honor student in school with many talents in the arts as well as the sciences, he faced a devastating disease, schizophrenia, when he reached the age of 17; which altered all his hopes and dreams for his future. Upon graduation from high school, he spent a semester in college; but his inability to concentrate forced him to drop out of school. Though he managed to work at the family lumber company from 1973 to 1983, Doug could no longer maintain a job after that because of his constant struggle with the effects of schizophrenia. Several years later, however, miracle drugs came on the medical scene; and, with new medication and the help of good caregivers, Doug began to rally. His family will be eternally grateful for those last 25 years of Doug's life when he began to enjoy himself again. For the first time in years he took pleasure in reading, took long walks, and played his piano. He enjoyed home-cooked food on holidays and birthdays and played croquet with his family on those occasions.
Although Doug's new medication turned his life around, some of his symptoms continued, and it seemed to be "too little, too late" to render him employable or well enough to resume his education. He also suffered unusually strong risks and side effects associated with the treatment of schizophrenia. Improved treatment without those risks was desperately needed. Early detection and medication tailored to Doug's needs might have changed his whole life story, and he and his family could have avoided the lifelong pain and suffering related to the disease of schizophrenia.
Doug's spirit, as he struggled with his debilitating disease, was an inspiration to the people he met on a day-to-day basis, however, as well as to his family. He was loved by the people he lived with in his board-and-care home who will always remember his quiet manner and his uncomplaining attitude.
In 1969, Doug declared his confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and was baptized by Rev. Leo Miller who received him into the membership of First Mennonite Church in Reedley, California, where he remained a member until his death. Doug sang in the many choirs of the church as he grew to maturity, and when he became a member of the Young People's Choir, he enjoyed the opportunity of directing the choir several times.
Doug's sudden, untimely death due to a heart attack has left an empty spot in the hearts of the people who loved him. He is mourned by his parents, Paul and Corinna Ruth; a sister, Paula Cowdrey and her husband Tim; a brother, Bryan Ruth and his wife Alisa; and also by his nephews Matthew Hoff and his wife Nicole; Ethan Hoff, Timmy Cowdrey, Alex Vasilenko, and many friends and relatives.
If you wish to make an online donation to Doug Ruth's Memorial in support of schizophrenia research, please click here.