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Lehi’s first rodeo queen turns 100 on Sept. 3

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Ruth Peterson McMillan Richins Brown was born Sept. 3, 1922, In Lehi to Virgil and Leota Peterson. She will be 100 years old in just over a week. 

Ruth Brown expressed her joy growing up in Lehi; her insights and memories are rich and varied. Ruth spent her first seventeen years enjoying the serenity of Lehi’s quiet rural atmosphere. She reminisced about the depression being a time of significant challenges. “We were lucky,” she said. “Dad grew a large garden, and we had plenty to eat and share.” Her husband was raised in Salt Lake City, and his family gathered coal along the railroad tracks to cook their scanty rations. “He mostly ate beans,” she said. “When he was drafted, and they fed the soldiers beans, he could hardly choke them down.” 

“Everybody in Lehi worked hard. I thinned many long rows of beets. My knees became so scraped that I scooted between the rows on my behind,” she laughed. “We had a good life growing up.”

“My best friend was Irene Mehling. Her family owned a confectionary store on Main Street. They also had a small wagon they hauled around and sold goodies and candy out of the window,” she said. Her best friend, who lives in California, is still alive and will turn 100 soon too. “We talk each Christmas,” added Ruth.

She noted how grateful she has been for modern inventions—the vacuum cleaner and the washing machine. “We used to clean our floors with a broom, scrubbed our clothes and wring them out in our wringer washing machine. Washing machines are wonderful.”

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When asked what advice she had for today’s parents, she was very adamant about the difficulties parents face today. “There is so much confusion now, and it is almost impossible for newly married couples to get a good start. Many of our young men are delaying marriage because they can’t afford the price of housing. This is a sad situation for our country,” she said. “Something has got to happen in our country. I fear we are headed in the wrong direction.”

Ruth admitted that she is addicted to TV news. “I look forward to hearing the news of the day. I especially like Sean Hannity. My kids told Hannity about my passion for his newscasts and that I will soon be 100 years old.”

Over the years, Brown has enjoyed reading but has macular degeneration, and her eyesight is failing. “I love my Jitterbug phone. It works for me so that I can contact my family,” she said.

She has worked for many years of her life. She worked with her husband in his sporting goods and bowling shop for many years and then worked at the University of Utah, where she was in charge of the Union Building. “This is where I was happiest,” she said. “I loved to talk to the students and help them with problems.”

When asked about her “legacy,” she quickly responded, “It is my family.” Her four children, Greg, Kelly, Vicki, and Georgia and their families provide her with joy and satisfaction. “They are all good, productive people. I was a strict disciplinarian,” she added, and I had high expectations for my children. They have made good decisions and are all independent in every way.” She has a posterity of 80. 

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She spent most of her life in Salt Lake City, but now she divides her time between Garden City, near Bear Lake and her home in Lehi. She is grateful for good health and the ability to live independently.

“I have a good family and have lived an honest life.”

Several members of her family live in Lehi, including her brother Paul, her sister, Lueen Kirkham, and many nieces and nephews.

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