Ruby Sergio, 100, foster grandmother

December 04, 2005

Ruby Thaxton Sergio, who volunteered as a substitute grandmother until she was 98, died in her sleep Monday at her Baltimore home. She was 100.

Ruby Thaxton was born in Virginia, one of eight children. Her family didn't have much money - she would later recount eating a flour-and-water concoction she called "ash cake."

At 18, she and a brother moved to Baltimore. She worked on an assembly line at the Edgewood Arsenal and later at a can company.

After retiring, Ms. Sergio became a volunteer at Family and Children Services of Central Maryland, working in a foster-grandparent program.

For years, she was paired with a disabled child at what was then Rosewood State Hospital. She visited every weekday to feed, bathe and play with the little girl.

"She would come home and make clothes for her. Anything to make her smile," said Mildred Thaxton, her daughter-in-law, with whom she lived. The girl "couldn't walk or talk but she would wave her little arms and hands, she was so happy to see her."

Ms. Sergio served as a foster-grandparent volunteer for 27 years, in a classroom and then in a day care center.

Briefly married to Edward Sergio in the 1930s, Ms. Sergio had one son, Freddie Thaxton, a Baltimore-area jazz pianist who died in 1989.

Known for occasionally tossing out salty words and for fending for herself, Ms. Sergio would climb up a ladder to change a light bulb or march off alone to the bus stop into her 80s and 90s. She thought elders should be respected and wasn't afraid to let people know if they didn't pass muster on the manners front.

"She would cuss and fuss and say all kinds of stuff," Mrs. Thaxton said. "But everyone seemed to love her and would come back for more."

Services were Friday at Ray of Hope Baptist Church.

In addition to her daughter-in-law, survivors include a sister, Eva Walker of Baltimore, a half-brother, Howard Thaxton; a stepsister, Barbara Smith; a stepbrother, John Smith; seven grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-granddaughter.

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