Ruth Elizabeth Messick, 88, foster parent to 56 children

October 22, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Ruth Elizabeth Messick, a homemaker who was honored for her efforts as a foster parent to dozens of children, died of congestive heart failure Saturday at her Cape St. Claire home. The former Parkville resident was 88.

Born Ruth Elizabeth Feige in Baltimore and raised in Hamilton, she attended St. Dominic Parochial School and was a 1931 graduate of Seton High School. She later studied child care at what was then Essex Community College.

A homemaker, she became a Baltimore County Department of Social Services foster parent and cared for 56 children from 1961 to 1986.

In 1975, she received the International Woman's Year Award for "outstanding service to children," given by a local chapter of Xi Alpha Gamma sorority. She was nominated for International Mother of the Year in Baltimore County.

"The little ones should have a chance, and I wanted to give them the same start I gave my own," she told The Sun in 1981, when she was honored at a statewide dinner for Foster Parents Week.

When she announced to her own children in 1961 that a baby would be coming home to their house, "they were so delighted they went out and told all the neighbors I was going to have a baby. I received a lot of congratulations," Mrs. Messick said.

After moving to Anne Arundel County, she joined the Arnold Senior Center.

She was a member of St. Andrews by the Bay Roman Catholic Church.

Her husband of 52 years, Merrill A. Messick, died in 1985.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Barranco and Sons Severna Park Funeral Home, Ritchie Highway at Robinson Road.

Survivors include three sons, Merrill A. Messick Jr. of Bel Air, Edgar Peter Feige Messick of York, Pa., and Raymond Gabriel Messick of Baltimore; three daughters, Virginia Lee Kowalsky-Ramirez of Annapolis, Ruth Elizabeth Yingling of Ocean City and Doris A. Sauerwein of Phoenix, Baltimore County; a sister, Margaret Baumbach of Baltimore; 13 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

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