CUBA CITY—Growing up, Ruth Ann Summers was surrounded by volunteers in her family and at her church. She doesn’t think anything of lending a hand for various projects in the Cuba City community.
“It was always the way we lived,” Summers said.
Her volunteerism started at a young age when she played organ at weekday Mass at St. Rose Catholic Church. As a freshman in high school she was the leader of the Junior Catholic Daughters of America in Cuba City and later started teaching religion classes as a sophomore in high school, fulfilling the role for 25 years.
“A lot of it revolved around the church,” Summers said. “Between my mother and the Dominicans, they had a powerful influence on me. I don’t do anything major. It’s just a lot of little things.”
She takes many local elderly people to the doctor when she’s able and assists many different groups with their projects. Summers recently helped the city’s parks and recreation committee with creating the multisport complex in Cuba City. She
said Janette (Kilkelly) Vail spearheaded the task, but Summers assisted with details to make it happen.
She also helped a group clean up the Texaco Station and plant flowers, then watered the flowers every day. She’s a master gardener and has helped quite a few people with landscaping projects in Cuba City.
Summers said she spends quite a bit of her volunteer time with the Grant County Historical Society.
“It really energizes me,” Summers said. “I love it.”
Summers is on the board of directors for the Grant County Historical Society. She helps plan and present programming, helps with upkeep of the museum and develops new exhibits. She has been involved with a presentation on local Vietnam veterans, including Army CPL Merlin Clarence Stelpflug. She has also worked on style shows and other fundraisers.
She said everybody on the board has an area of expertise and hers is working at the museum, whether it is setting up or cleaning up. She enjoys talking with people who visit, too. One of her objectives at the museum is to promote the history of Cuba City.
“It’s a wonderful place,” Summers said. “I’ve met a lot of people and learned so much.”
Summers also assisted with the Cuba City Community Center Committee for several years before it was voted down in the November 2014 election.
“Volunteering energizes me and it gets me out with the people, I meet new people,” Summers said. “It makes me feel fulfilled.”
She said she is positive about the future of her hometown.
“I’m pleased that the city has hired an economic development director and the Chamber hired a new director,” Summers said. “That’s forward-looking and planning for the future. That’s one of the best things that could happen for Cuba City. If you don’t grow, if you just stay the same, you end up losing out. I see a bright future for Cuba City.”
Summers retired in 2001 as a registered nurse. She earned her RN degree in 1977.
NICC was looking for a clinical instructor part-time, which she did for several years. She also developed a wellness program for the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa.
Later, Summers went back to school for a degree in business administration—economics and finance from UW-Platteville.
“It opened my eyes and made me more interested in the world, but it didn’t do anything for my livelihood,” Summers said. “So, I continued working as an RN, first at Mercy on the Orthopedic floor.”
After a car accident one snowy evening, Summers decided to work a little closer to home.
“I started down here [Southwest Health Center] and working at a small town hospital was a good experience because you had to learn to be versatile. We had wonderful staff. I got so close to some of them. It was such a good experience.”
Summers, formerly a McWilliams, has four children and 12 grandchildren with her husband Bob. Summers was born in Mrs. Holgraver’s Maternity Home in Cuba City, a historical location in Cuba City she said many of the older residents may remember, and has been a lifelong resident of the community.
“I love being retired,” Summers said. “It’s the best job I ever had, besides being a mother. It gives me more time now to volunteer. When you’re young and raising a family, you just don’t have that kind of time. I don’t do anything extraordinary; I just have time to do the things I didn’t do while I was working.”
Editor's Note: This column will be a special addition to the Tri-County Press on a monthly basis. Look for each installment near the end of the month. All volunteers are recomended for the article by Mayor Tom Gile. If you have ideas for future volunteers in the community to be recognized, contact Gile at 608-744-3203.