2014 BYU President’s Award Winner: Ruth Brasher
Ruth Brasher was raised on a dairy farm in Huntington, Utah, the oldest in a family of five girls and one boy. She learned very early how to pitch hay and milk Bessie. When her father needed someone to drive the delivery truck, he tossed her the keys, even though she was under-aged. “The day I turned 16,” Ruth remembered, “my father had me down at the government office before it even opened” to get her license. It was good to be legal.
She continued this pattern of being an eager worker throughout her life.
From the time Ruth was young, her parents taught her the importance of giving to others as well as the consequences of hard work. “If we don’t teach you anything else,” her father would say, “I hope your mother and I teach you the value of hard work - and I hope that you’re willing to exert yourself in whatever ways you would make a contribution.”
Rarely will you find Ruth not engaged in one of her many campus, civic, and community projects. “As I grew older,” she said, explaining her axiom for life, “I began to realize the kind of satisfactions that come from doing things for others, whether anyone knows or not.”
Ruth majored in home economic education, graduating from BYU in 1951. She was a strong advocate of higher education for women, going on to earn a master’s degree and PhD herself. While teaching at Oregon State University she felt impressed that BYU would soon call her. Sure enough, the next year she returned to her alma mater to teach, beginning a career of leadership and service.
A key moment in her storied service includes raising $1 million for the Camilla Eyring Kimball Chair of Home and Family Life. Ruth kicked in $5,000, and she not only successfully championed the chair in honor of Sister Kimball but also began a pattern of lifelong giving.
Now long retired, Ruth is still engaged in campus and community service. For more than 22 years she has organized groups of women to make teddy bears for abused children. To date they have made almost 22,000 bears. “It’s not the teddy bear itself,” she acknowledged, “but what it symbolizes to the child - that somebody cared.”