Meet a Member: Iowa member activist: Ruth Walker

Name: Ruth Walker.

Where I live: Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Where and when I was born: July 26, 1940, in a farmhouse near West Union, Iowa. My father and uncle had wired the house for electricity the winter before and they’d looked forward to a baby coming without the need for kerosene lamps.

Family: Two daughters. Brenda is a school librarian in Las Vegas, Nev., and Pam runs the business office for a construction company with offices in Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

Education: I took piano lessons for nine years and can sight-read most hymns! I was valedictorian of the class of 1957 (49 students) at West Union High School. I have a B.A. from Iowa State Teachers College (math major, physics minor). I attended Northern Arizona University (more than 30 hours in computer science) and the University of Northern Iowa (two years in the graduate education technology program) after retirement.

Occupation: Retired from Qwest. I started with Mountain Bell in Flagstaff, Ariz., a job available after my divorce in 1977 so my children could live close to their father, an astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory. I transferred in 1990 to Waterloo, Iowa, to be near my elderly parents. I taught high school math and science for one year right out of college.

How I got where I am today: Followed the path of least resistance?

Where I’m headed: When my kids were growing up, I told them that I took classes so I’d know what I wanted to be if I grew up. It didn’t work. I keep trying to influence public education. Most educational research is worthless due to samples that are too small, bias, confounding factors, etc.

Person in history I admire: Anne Sullivan, because Helen Keller’s great accomplishments were possible only because of an exceptional teacher.  

A quotation I like: “Paper never refused ink.” (I’m skeptical.)

These are a few of my favorite things: Classical music, reading, discussions of religious topics (when everyone is honest and all ideas are welcomed), teaching, algebra.

These are not: Memorization. I was a math major because if I couldn’t remember it, I could derive it.

How long I’ve been a freethinker: Since about 1966. Before I read Hugh Schonfield’s The Passover Plot: A New Interpretation of the Life and Death of Jesus, I wondered how such fantastic stories got started if there wasn’t some truth in them.   

Why I’m a freethinker: It seems stupid to reject reason. Those who claim that faith guides their lives still use reason. I wonder how they decide when to use which.

The patterns in the world are wonderful. If miracles were true, the patterns would be spoiled. For example, when I first learned that a mathematical equation can describe the time it takes an object to fall to the ground, I was thrilled. Walking on water would spoil it.

Best way I promote freethought: I enjoy following up on FFRF’s Action Alerts. 

Second best way: I speak up when it is assumed that everyone present is religious. They often don’t get it. I’ve even been accused of being a good Christian woman more than once.

Freedom From Religion Foundation