Wednesday, February 13, 2013

For Valentine's Day: A Red Cross Love Story

The Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program has facilitated communication with service members in all branches of the military for countless individuals. But for one couple, the Red Cross didn’t just provide help to relay a message -- it reignited a romance that has endured for six decades.

Rip and Ruth Hobson met in Englewood when they were attending different high schools. Ruth saw Rip playing football one day and decided she wanted to meet the young man. Their first date was at a school Halloween party, and they stayed together as teenagers until Rip, as he put it, started acting like a “typical teenage boy.” Rip nearly dropped out of high school and the couple broke up, eventually losing touch.

Later, Ruth got wind that Rip had joined the military and enlisted the help of the Red Cross to track him down and reestablish contact. “I don’t know who suggested it, but I just didn’t know where to start. So someone suggested I try the Red Cross.”

She contacted her chapter and a few weeks later, got the detailed information needed to send him a letter. Rip was in basic training to become a paratrooper when he received a package from Ruth. She sent a letter, accompanied with a framed, 8x10 color photograph. “She was a gorgeous lady,” Rip said. “Still is.”

When he got the letter and the photograph, Rip called Ruth collect and proposed. The two were married August 18, 1953, and will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this year. Ruth said that even getting the call from Rip was a stroke of fate. A girlfriend had asked her to go out that very afternoon, and she declined, feeling that it was important she stay at home. “It was just meant to be,” she said.

Rip, who eventually worked in law enforcement and retired as the Littleton Chief of Police, continues to be involved with the Red Cross as a volunteer driver. He has given his time to the Red Cross Mile High Chapter’s Transportation Services program for more than 16 years.

Their secret to a 60-year marriage? “A lot of patience,” Rip said. “I’ve put her through a lot. When I was in the airborne, I was out jumping out of planes and she was back in the apartment.” For Ruth, it comes down to compromise and commitment. “It’s never, ever 50-50. It might be 90-10, or anywhere in between. And I don’t care if you’ve been married a few months, or as long as we have, it’s work. You have to work at it.”

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