Mourns the passing of Ruth Henderson

To the Editor:

I have lost a dear friend.

I first met Ruth Henderson sometime in the early 1970s. She, along with 30-plus other businesspersons, formed the New Milford Bank & Trust Co.

From that time until the bank was sold in the 1990s, she was a member of the Board of Directors.

Over the years, for whatever reason, Ruth and I became friends. The more I knew her, the more amazed I became.

Ruth was born in pre-war Germany. As the war came to an end, Ruth and her mother, with just suitcases, walked across the Czech border and eventually found their way to New York.

Ruth was a long-legged, handsome young woman and quickly became a model in New York City. One day while walking her dogs, she came upon a gull-winged Mercedes illegally parked.

Ruth being Ruth, she decided she needed to confront the transgressor. She entered the nearest building and confronted the owner, Skitch Henderson. The rest, as we say, is history.

It always amazed me that Skitch, a Canadian who fought with the RAF (Royal Air Force) in the Battle of Britain, ended up marrying a German refugee. Yet it worked amazingly.

Skitch and Ruth created the New York Pops, with headquarters at Carnegie Hall. Their concerts were spectacular.

Their main event of each year was the "Gala." It was a black-tie event followed by dinner and dancing in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel. There were always numerous members of New York society there. Ruth was very comfortable with them.

She was truly a special and unique woman.

Ruth was the Pops' first lady. She was the consummate networker. Ruth was an expert at fundraising and never bashful. Her energy was boundless, and she was constantly making notes for future projects in her trademark green ink.

She made Hunt Hill in the Northville section of New Milford a special place for her and Skitch. She created The Silo and turned it into a destination spot for culinary persons, even having (acclaimed chef) Jacques Pepin teach cooking at the school.

Several cookbooks and coffee table books were authored by Ruth. Christmastime at The Silo and Hunt Hill was always special. There were always the 30-foot Christmas tree, the holiday events, the buzz.

Ruth and Skitch were world travelers, yet they were down-to-earth people. Their home is a museum to their lives, with pictures of them and many presidents, Skitch's flight suit, and a plethora of antiques and other memorabilia gathered during their lives and travels.

Among other things, they were fixtures in Stowe, Vt., in the 1950s and '60s. They owned and ran a go-to restaurant in New York City.

Yet they could also enjoy a simple quiet dinner on the porch at Lake Waramaug Country Club.

As the years passed, Ruth and I would make a point of having lunch several times a year. The last time was two years ago, when my wife, Sharon, and I took Ruth to the Hopkins Inn. Ruth enjoyed a good martini, swordfish and two escargot takeouts.

It hurt me, and I am sure many others, to watch such a vibrant person decline. I hope someone will write the story of Ruth and Skitch's life. It certainly was anything but average.

The world has lost a special person, but we all should be glad to have been graced by her presence.

Auf Wiedersecen, mein freund.

Terry Pellegrini

Terry Pellegrini is a longtime New Milford area resident, partner in the Moots, Pellegrini, Arnold and Gronbach law firm and a member of the executive committee at New Milford Hospital.

He and his wife, Sharon, were close friends for four decades with Ruth Henderson, of New Milford, who died Feb. 25.