LOWER MAKEFIELD >> Ruth Wright, a lifelong Bucks Countian and a “salt of the earth” member of its farming community, passed away from natural causes on Dec. 26 at her beloved Broadmeadows Farm in Lower Makefield. She was 96.
On the day of her death, her Christmas star was shining atop her silo along the heavily-traveled Newtown Bypass, spreading its message of hope, peace, love and healing to the community.
The star has been a fixture at the farm during the holiday season ever since she and her late husband, John Wright, installed the first one decades ago. Over the years, Ruth would often light the star for sick and ailing friends and relatives.
“Now it’s shining for her as she makes her way to heaven,” said Ruth’s adopted daughter, Sharon Kimmel.
Wright, affectionately known as “mom” by many, loved her farm, loved her animals, loved people and loved the land, especially her small patch of Earth at Lindenhurst Road and Route 332.
Even in her 90s, Wright didn’t let the years stop her from mowing the pasture and yards at her beloved farm on the Lower Makefield-Newtown border, tending to her garden, pulling weeds in her yard or hopping on one of her tractors.
Ruth was especially proud of her towering canna plants, which she has been growing for years, and her heirloom lima beans, passed down through the generations for more than 500 years.
“Farming and gardening were her life,” said Kimmel. “She was hard working. She loved people. She loved her church. She loved her farm. And she loved animals,” especially her three adopted cats.
Wright was a regular at the Grange Fair in Wrightstown where she volunteered at the Grange Fair Experience Booth. For years, she also worked the horse show for two decades with Sharon.
But she was probably best known for her participation in the fair’s popular tractor parades.
Seated on her trustworthy 1960 John Deere tractor that she affectionately called “Henrietta” (she had names for all of her tractors), she had participated in the parade from the start in the 1990s.
At her last fair in 2019, at the age of 95, she attracted the attention of CBS3, which aired a segment featuring Ruth and reporter Vittoria Woodill competing in the tractor games. In 2018, Ruth won first place in the games, in which the slowest tractor to cross the finish line wins the race.
“She was very loving and caring,” said Kimmel. “She was very supportive and would do anything for you. She’d do anything for anybody. And you couldn’t keep her down. If she wanted to get something done, boy she was going to do it.”
Ruth was born to Elizabeth and Jesse Osmond on the family farm on Street Road in Bensalem (now the site of the Outback Steakhouse) in 1924 when Calvin Coolidge was President.
When she was six months old, her family moved to Northampton Township where her father operated a 50 acre dairy farm on 2nd Street Pike in Richboro just north of the Newtown Road from 1924 to 1948. The farm is the site of today’s Highland Farms.
Growing up in Richboro and living on her parent’s dairy farm “were good days,” said Ruth in an interview in 2019 on the occasion of her 95th birthday. “I loved it.”
Ruth attended and graduated in 1942 from the Richboro School located next door to her parent’s farm.
“I’d go out one door and in the other,” she laughed of her very short walk to school. “It was kind of neat,” she said of attending school there. “I loved going to school,” she added, noting she had just 15 in her graduating class.
Graduation was held at the Addisville Reformed Church located just down the street. That’s also where Ruth and John Wright were married in 1945.
The couple met for the first time at a dance at the Woodside Community House. But afterwards, Ruth said “he didn’t call and he didn’t call.” But eventually he did call and invited Ruth to a movie. “We went together about three years” before they were married, she said.
In 1948 John and Ruth purchased the close to 90 acre Briggs Farm on Lindenhurst Road in Lower Makefield located next door to Breezyvale Farm, the Wright family dairy farm.
The farm - renamed Broadmeadows Farm - has been home sweet home ever since for Wright and her extended family.
Broadmeadows Farm initially served as a “nursery,” raising calves that were eventually sent to Breezyvale Farm when they matured. Today, the farm raises alfalfa and field corn and is also home to an English and Western horse riding school operated by Kimmel.
Her husband, John, didn’t live long enough to see the farm preserved. He died in 1989, 15 years before Ruth agreed to sell a conservation easement to Bucks County and Lower Makefield Township to preserve their beloved 82-acre farm in perpetuity.
That was the same year that Broadmeadows Farm made local history, hosting a campaign stop by U.S. President George W. Bush. A crowd of 23,000 gathered on Oct. 28 to hear the President speak at the farm. Bush went on to win re-election that November. It was the first time a sitting president had visited the township.
“We had Bucks County tied up that day,” recalled Ruth, who got to meet the President personally. “He kissed me,” she said smiling broadly. “That was some crowd.”
Over the past 20 years, Ruth and Sharon became regulars at Mil-Lee's on South Main Street in Yardley Borough where she would order Mickey Mouse pancakes. She also enjoyed the Fish and Chips at Applebee’s.
When Ruth turned 95 in 2019, she was asked her secret to a long life.
“Good farm living and a good farm life,” she said without hesitation. “I always worked hard, had a lot of fun, had a wonderful husband. And I have an excellent daughter now. I’ve always said we have had a good farm life. Growing up, we were made to mind. We didn’t get away with a lot. And we had a good church life.”
Ruth was a 74 year member of the Woodside Presbyterian Church in Lower Makefield where she had served on the Pulpit nominating Committee, mowed the lawn for many years and was known for her homemade apple sauce, which she made for the church’s annual pork dinner until the event was discontinued.
Ruth was a 50 year member of the Edgewood Grange No. 688 before joining the Middletown Grange No. 684 in 1998. She held many offices in both organizations, including master and secretary.
In addition, Ruth was a member of the Order of Eastern Star and a former 4-H leader who taught rifle safety and marksmanship.
“Anywhere she would go she would light up the room,” said Kimmel. “Her sense of humor was tremendous. And she was a trickster, too. She was something else. And I’m going to miss her terribly.”
When pandemic restrictions are lifted, funeral services will be held at the Woodside Presbyterian Church in Lower Makefield.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her memory to the Bucks County SPCA, 1665 Street Road, P.O. Box 277, Lahaska, Pa. 18931.