On July 24, the beautifully restored schoolhouse in Lowrys welcomed the Ruritan National of America. All those fine folks gathered to honor members who had passed on but had made strong contributions of teaching and presenting knowledge to the youth of Chester County and the surroundings areas.
Many of those citizens were charter members of the Lowrys club, and Evelyn Wilson helped to get that list together. One charter member, the Rev. Joe Brown, proudly presented memories of the past. He told about many of the contributions that these departed members made to the community and the value they offered to the lives of the younger members.
There also are charter members who are still active in remembering the work of the club, and they will quickly point out that the simple existence of the Ruritan played an important part of the old Lowrys School history. For they met there as young people, in that time-honored building as they moved through the four categories of the membership: Regular, Ruri-teen, Associate and Ruritan Forever.
A few years ago, in an interview, the late Earl Cameron explained the part the Ruritans played in the life of the local youth. Earl told of projects that made a deep impression on his life and taught, through examples, the gift of giving and sharing the importance of the Ruritan philosophy.
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The history of the Ruritan in America goes back to May 21, 1928, when the first group was formed in Suffolk, Va. Unlike other civic organizations, Ruritan rarely has national programs. It serves individual communities and works locally with Future Farmers of America and 4-H, and nearly one of every three Ruritan clubs sponsors a Boy Scout or Girl Scout group.
Every Ruritan National member had probably been an acolyte and then a member of the group as a young person and then on into adulthood. They learned about the value of different projects and many times took that learning onto a larger scale as they progressed into the workaday world.
All of the constituents are well-known for their interest in the community. They have recreational centers that offer athletic programs, anti-litter campaigns, services to the sick and homebound and any other place where their civic dedication can be put to good use.
The whole purpose of the club is to promote fellowship and goodwill and inspire one another to higher intellectual and character building endeavors.
That night in July was a moment of seeing the men and women of the Lowrys area together talking about the ones who had passed on and listing their contributions in a way that showed the pride and admiration that was felt for all of them.
Ken Fleming welcomed everyone and let us know that it would be an evening of remembering. The Rev. Judson King of Armenia Methodist gave the opening, and the president, Jimmy Bristow of the national Ruritan, spoke about the organization and the contributions made by the folks who were honored on that special night.
Memories of the past were presented by the Rev. Brown.
Kenny McKeown presented the plaque that will hang in the school honoring the folks who made all of this history possible. His wife, Joy, did all of the mailing and other chores that must be accomplished to complete an event of this importance.
The Rev. Mike Shaffer, interim pastor at Lowrys Baptist Church, sang a hymn that touched all of our hearts and let us enjoy the richness of his voice.
The pastor of Zion Presbyterian Church of Lowrys, the Rev. Ed Clark, brought the evening to an end with the closing prayer. He thanked God for all he had done and for remembering all of the past members who served the Ruritans and the neighborhood with profound dedication.
The remaining members took great pride and pleasure in the past.