Saturday, August 07, 2010
Remembering Ruby Sapp
We were living through the Reagan years, followed by four years of George H. W. Bush as president and officeholders who had a D by their names on Jasper County ballots were few and far between.
The 1990s did not start much better for local Democrats. Not only was President Bush still in office, but Missouri's governor was Republican John Ashcroft.
With all of those negatives, Ruby Sapp never lost her enthusiasm for her party. I first met Ruby in March 1992, when she stopped by the Carthage Press office to let me know that the state's lietenant governor and in her words "our state's next governor" Mel Carnahan was going to be in Carthage. Even though she was in a building in which the Press Editorial Board endorsed Republican and Carthage native son Bill Webster, the attorney general, three times, she never lost her sense of humor and never had any doubt that we were wrong and Mel Carnahan was going to be governor.
And one year later, Bill Webster was headed to prison and Mel Carnahan was in the goveronr's mansion- and there was a Democrat in the White House, Bill Clinton.
Though there was still on average only one Demcratic officeholder in Jasper County, Ruby never gave up hoping and was gratified by the success of Kathleen McGuire when she was elected to office in the mid-90s.
One of my favorite memories of Ruby Sapp came when she stopped by The Press office in 1994, a few months after I had been named managing editor to ask me what kind of coverage I planned to give to Hillary Clinton's visit to Independence, Missouri.
I told her Independence was a little out of our reading area, but I would be happy to run some AP copy of the visit. Then I asked her if she knew anybody who was going, knowing full well what her answer was going to be.
It didn't take long for me to convince Ruby to write an account of the First Lady's visit. Lamar resident Kim Stahl was also headed to Independence that day on another mission- protesting the Clinton visit. So The Press ended up not using any Associated Press material at all. I ran Ruby Sapp and Kim Stahl's first-person accounts side-by-side under the headline "Declarations from Independence."
For Press readers, it was a fun look at politics from both sides. For Ruby,seeing Hillary Clinton was a dream come true and things only got better.
Two years after that, she was chosen to represent Jasper County at the Democratic National Convention.
For Ruby Sapp, life was family and Democratic politics.
Ruby died Thursday at age 81 and things were undoubtedly just the way she wanted them- a Democrat in the White House and a Democrat in the governor's mansion.