Born August 25, 1931, in Frenchburg, KY, she was the daughter of the late Walter E. Welch and Kizzy Smith Welch. She is preceded in death by her husband, Lawrence E. Coots, in 1988; and her siblings: Sammy Welch, Jim Welch, Helen Norris, Juanita Cook, and Alma Kathryn Welch, with whom she shared a home since 1991. All were waiting to embrace her as she reached the other side.
Ruby, (known to her special young man as “granny”), is survived by her only son, Lawrence E. Coots II, daughter-in-law, Natalie, of Beckley; and the shining light and pride of her life, her only grandchild, Jacob Sidney Coots, of Morgantown, WV. She is also survived by her brothers, Walter E. Welch, Jr., and wife Phyllis of Shady Spring, WV; and Donald R. Welch, and wife Irene, of Monroe, NC. She is also survived by a host of nieces, nephews, friends, and former students, to whom she referred as “her kids”.
Ruby’s family, the Welches, hosted a reunion each year for many years, at Walter and Kizzy’s home on Airport Road in Chapmanville. During those weekends, she and her sister fried many pounds of the best chicken. Ruby made the best pasta salad. Irene made the best rolls. Kizzy made the best of everything. The day after, the family would have breakfast together, which was also prepared and served by the women of the Welch family. Lucky the people who were taken in as in-laws and friends. Ruby, her mother, and her sisters were tough, smart, organized, and resourceful women who made things happen.
Ruby was a proud graduate of Man High School, class of 1950. She was always proud to be a Man Hillbilly, and told tales of being a school- girl there. She laughingly told of hijinks with her very special friend, “Boots” Browning. She greatly enjoyed the days when the Hillbillies came to Beckley to play WWHS, and loved attending the football games with her son.
Ruby held many jobs and wore many hats during her lifetime. Her first job was in a local grill, “slingin’ hash”. She was able to purchase her first car, of which she spoke fondly in later years. She laughingly told of holding a job in an Andes Candies factory. She was working in the emergency room in Man, WV, when a handsome man came in, in need of first aid after a scuffle. She married that handsome man, affectionately known as “Popeye”, and they enjoyed many years together until he passed away suddenly, at the young age of 53.
Ruby and Lawrence were avid supporters of Clear Fork High School sports, where their son, Larry, was involved in football, basketball, and track. She and “Popeye” never missed an event, and walked proudly onto the field with their son on Senior Night.
Ruby and Popeye owned a camp on Smith Mountain Lake, where they were able to enjoy fishing, camping, and friends, many of whom also traveled from their community in Colcord. When at home, they enjoyed visits with their friends and neighbors, sitting on the porch swing, playing Rook, drinking coffee far too late into the evening, and just laughing and talking. They welcomed their son’s friends into their home as well. They attended the Assembly of God Church in Dorothy on occasion.
Ruby loved working puzzles, including working the Sunday crossword in ink. She loved shopping and had so much fun, local clerks knew her on a first-name basis. She loved getting a good deal, and everyone benefited from her shopping savvy. She enjoyed exercising, first at “Inches Aweigh” and then, at Bodyworks, with the Silver Sneakers group, where she developed many friendships.
As a CNA , Ruby worked in local nursing homes and hospitals. She and Lawrence lived in various cities, in search of better jobs. Their pursuits took them to Chicago, IL: Detroit, MI; Spring Hill, WV; Beckley, WV; Chapmanville, WV; Whitesville, WV, and finally, Colcord, WV, where they remained until Lawrence’s death in 1988. Ruby’s last job began in 1977, when she began working as a teacher’s aide in Raleigh County Schools, first working at Piney View Elementary. This job would also lead her to Clear Fork School, Clear Fork District Elementary, working with her dear friend, Jackie Akers; Pettus Elementary, and last, to Stanaford Elementary, working alongside her good friend, Leatha Domingues. Ruby worked in the school system until the age of 71. She related that she was writing on the board in the classroom, asked herself why she was still working. It was then that she entered the office, and announced her intention to retire to her principal, Drema Bell, or “Miss B”. When asked if she was bored without work, she answered, “I love my life right now.” Wherever Ruby was, she had a good time and made people laugh.
Of all her roles and responsibilities, the one Ruby enjoyed the most was that of “Granny”. When Jacob was born, she was so proud. This once stern and austere woman became a softened, googling, and silly grandma. She loved him, doted on him, spoiled him, and protected him. She loved him as much as any grandparent ever loved a grandchild. He was her “Spike” and she was his “Grinny”. Upon her death, a box labeled “things to keep”, contained every card, trinket, and childhood drawing or painting ever given to her by her grandson.
Ruby was a hard worker; a sister; a friend; a mother; a grandmother; and helped to mold many young minds. She will be most sadly missed by all of us.
Ruby’s family would like to give thanks and recognition to her caregivers, who not only cared for her, but loved her and became family: Coco Curry, Tia Wilson, and Janeshia Curry. Larry, Natalie, and Jacob will never be able to repay “the ladies” for the love, kindness, and comfort these angels extended to the family over the past four years.
A special thanks to Amber, Paula, and Lisa of Hospice of Southern West Virginia, for their care and guidance during Ruby’s last days.
Services to celebrate the life of Ruby Mae Coots will be held 2:00PM Wednesday, May 12, 2021 at Blue Ridge Funeral Home, 5251 Robert C. Byrd Drive, Beckley with Pastor James Johnson officiating. Following the services, Ruby will be laid to rest beside her beloved husband, Lawrence “Popeye” at Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens, Beckley.
Friends may gather with the family from 12 o’clock noon until time of the service Wednesday at the funeral home. In keeping with the current mandate issued by the WV Governor, we kindly request the facial coverings be worn while inside the building and social distancing please be practiced for the safety of the family and all guests.
Online condolences and other information can be found by visiting www.blueridgefuneralhome.com
Blue Ridge Funeral Home and Crematorium, 5251 Robert C Byrd Drive, Beckley is honored to be serving the family.