Woman turns 109, attributes music to longevity

CHESTERFIELD, MO. – Ruth Stewart has experienced a lot of life. She was born on July 15, 1908. Teddy Roosevelt was the President, the first Model-T rolled off the assembly line, aviation was in its infancy, there was no indoor plumbing in most homes — and no electricity either.

Her Mother was from Germany and her father from Poland. Born and raised in St. Louis, Ruth has experienced first-hand, things that many of us just read about in the history books.

“I saw the first street cars, we had movies without any talking, and we never had electricity either,” said Ruth.

For the past 23 years, Ruth has lived at the Friendship Village in Chesterfield. Earlier in the week, more than 100 friends and relatives celebrated her birthday. The Chesterfield mayor even declared the day in her honor.

Ruth had a sister growing u but has no immediate family left. She married but never had children of her own. Now, a niece looks after her.  She does have one famous relative, Scott Bakula, the actor best known for his lead roles in Quantum Leap and NCIS New Orleans — her great-nephew.

Ruth’s passion has always been playing the piano. She started lessons when she was 8-years-old. Not only was the piano a source of entertainment for her family, but it also became her job. When Ruth graduated high school at the age of 18, she went to work playing piano for the ‘Missouri Rockets’ in 1926. Those Rockets eventually moved to New York City and became the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.

She then played for a dance studio and at the Fox Theater in St. Louis and was also was a member of a small band that traveled throughout the St. Louis area performing. Ruth still plays today. In fact, she attributes having music in her life to giving her longevity.

“I think the secret is doing the thing you like.  I loved what I did and I attribute that to making me happy,” said Ruth, “and no liquor or smoking.”

Once Ruth gets to playing, it’s hard for her to stop.

“I think that is what really helped me to live my life, to make it interesting.”

© 2017 KSDK-TV