TRUE LOVE: Ruth and Kenneth Hill in March 1964. when a photographer offered to do free engagement photos.
TRUE LOVE: Ruth and Kenneth Hill in March 1964. when a photographer offered to do free engagement photos.

'How love changed my life'

RUTH Hill was only a baby when her father went away to fight in the Second World War but every night she kissed his photo before going to bed.

One night a man appeared at the front door.

Ruth's mother rushed to meet him and said 'better go easy with the children, you're a stranger to them'.

Only Ruth knew all too well the man at the door was the same man whose photo she had been staring at each night.

"I came running through the house with my arms outstretched saying daddy," Ruth said.

"I threw myself into his arms. He nearly fell down the stairs."

Ruth Hill was born on September 10, 1943 and was the second woman ever to become a minister in the Presbyterian Church.

While she now lives at Rosewood, Ruth grew up in Brisbane.

Her family home in Mitchelton backed onto the train line and even now Ruth can remember the taste and smell of the mandarins that fell from the tree in their yard.

When Ruth finished school she moved into the nurses' quarters at St Helens (Private) Hospital in South Brisbane.

She devoted four years of her life to learning how to care for others, yet never ended up working as a qualified nurse; love had other plans.

Growing up Ruth was always heavily involved with the Uniting Church.

When she was 13-years-old, a young minister came to speak at her parish and Ruth was inspired by his words.

"I said to my mother afterwards, 'wasn't he lovely? That's the sort of man I want to marry one day'," Ruth said.

"One day dear, my mum told me. And one day I did."

When Ruth was 20-years-old the mysterious minister, named Kenneth, returned to the parish and the pair instantly clicked.

Nine days of courting followed and in a year they were married. It was about a week after Ruth finished her nursing studies.

"He didn't propose as such, he told me," Ruth said.

"I was thinking about going to Tasmania to study midwifery but didn't feel quite right about it.

"Then I was talking it over with Kenneth and he said, 'well you could stay here instead and we could marry at the end of the year'.

"I almost died. After a little while he said, 'well, you haven't answered'.

"I said well no, you haven't asked me, so he did."

A little more than a year after they were married Ruth fell pregnant.

She and Kenneth raised four babies, three boys and one girl but only the birth of the girl was straightforward.

"I was in labour for five days with one of them," Ruth said. "I remember the doctor coming to see me at home to ask how I was. I told them I would be better if they took me into theatre, knocked me out and took the baby out of me somehow; and that's what they did."

Later in life Ruth studied to join her husband's life work and become a minister herself; the second woman ever to take up the position.

She joined the hospital chaplaincy at the Wesley Hospital and spent her time sitting with patients, listening and comforting them in their time of need.

Two years ago Ruth and her husband Kenneth moved into Cabanda Care at Rosewood, a change in lifestyle they were both ready for and are enjoying.

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