My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
Norma Ruth (Bowdoin) Birdsong was born December 1, 1939 at home in Porter Springs, Texas, the daughter of Robert Kite Bowdoin and Fannie Lurlean (Pearson) Bowdoin.
At the age of 81, she passed away peacefully into the arms of her Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ, on April 6, 2021.
She attended Porter Springs Baptist Church, which is where she made her public profession of faith to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord & Savior on June 10, 1951.
She was baptized later that day in a nearby pond.
During her life she attended Baptist churches in Porter Springs, Crockett, Marshall, Needville, Dallas, and Rosenberg, Texas.
She was an active member of First Baptist Church of Rosenberg from 1967 until her death.
Her service to her church included Sunday School teacher, VBS worker, and youth choir support team.
She taught the two-year old preschool Sunday School class for about ten years, then the kindergarten class for twenty-five years.
Ruth grew up in rural East Texas on a 300-acre family farm, where the family worked the fields by hand.
Her dad planted crops, including cotton, corn, sweet potatoes, and watermelons.
They also raised chickens, pigs, goats, and cows — which were sold for income and provided the source of meat for the family.
She shared stories that they would come in from the field late in the evening and have sliced tomatoes and a jar of canned peaches for supper.
Lunch was often fresh fried chicken, which was one of her favorite meals.
Ruth graduated from Crockett High School, May 1957.
She furthered her education, graduating from East Texas Baptist College – Class of 1961.
After graduating from college, she added her name to the list of graduates available for teaching positions.
The superintendent from Needville ISD traveled to Porter Springs for the interview, offering her a position to teach first grade.
Her parents drove her to Needville in August, 1961, where she rented a room in a home about a block from Needville Elementary School.
It was there that she met her husband, Kenneth Birdsong.
In addition to teaching together, they both attended First Baptist Church of Needville.
After a school-year courtship, they were married on May 28, 1962.
They were married for 58 years at the time of Kenneth’s death last August.
Her tenure with Needville ISD was initially short, from August 1961 to May 1963.
She resigned during her second year in preparation for their first child, Betty.
A second daughter, Kim, was born a few years later.
From 1963 to 1972, she focused on their care.
In the spring of 1972, she returned to teaching as a kindergarten teacher through the private program offered at First Baptist Church of Rosenberg.
In the fall of 1975, she oversaw the transition to a day care program, then started Mother’s Day Out in the fall of 1977.
She served as the program’s first director. The MDO program continues to thrive today.
Ruth returned to teaching first grade at Needville ISD in the fall of 1978.
Her class was known as Birdsong’s Bears.
She focused on the basics – reading, writing, and math. She was very intentional with teaching reading skills through phonics (specifically, how to sound out words). She retired in May, 2000.
She loved flowers. At one time, the entire house was encircled with flower beds, as well as the outline of the backyard fence.
She often took flowers to share with her preschool Sunday School class.
Some of her favorites included roses, the orchid trees she purchased from the Docents at the Moore Home, a trumpet plant, and plumeria.
She also loved to sew and crafting. (Unfortunately, neither of her daughters inherited her love for sewing.)
When her daughters were small, she made most of their clothes – including a few coats. Later in life, she was known for the sequined calendars and scrubbies she made as Christmas gifts.
She always carried a bag of supplies with her wherever she went, in case she had time to crochet a scrubby or sew some sequins on the calendars while she waited.
After retirement, Ruth often joined her husband, Kenneth, with the after-school care of their granddaughter, Robyn (Garlough) Hernandez and her cousin, John Jason Beard.
She also focused on researching her genealogy.
They made numerous trips to the Clayton Library in Houston, TX, and the Fort Bend County Library in Richmond, TX, looking through microfiche as she made notes (compiling many notebooks), detailing her family lineage.
Retirement also included time to travel.
Kenneth & Ruth, along with her sister and brother-in-law – Frances & Darden Welsh, traveled to Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico, and South Dakota. During these trips, they often visited extended family in their quest for genealogy history.
She began her day reading a daily devotion from Open Windows.
When her eyesight and the impact of Parkinson’s affected her ability to sew and work on her crafts, she kept her mind sharp working the Houston Chronicle crossword puzzle, as well as Sudoku and other puzzles.
She literally wore out several crossword dictionaries.
Her dear friend, Peggy Traylor, shared that one of her routines was to recite all of the states and capital cities alphabetically.
She was up for the challenge, doing the same.
Ruth was preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth Birdsong, her parents, Robert K. and Lurlean Bowdoin, two older brothers (who passed away before her birth), Clyde Winston Bowdoin and Clint Wilson Bowdoin, her sister and brother-in-law, Frances & Darden Welsh; and her younger brother and sister-in-law, Robert Earl & Brenda Bowdoin.
She is survived by her daughters, Betty (Birdsong) Garlough and her husband, Greggory; and Kim Birdsong; granddaughter, Robyn (Garlough) Hernandez and her husband, Jorge; a special young man who was like a grandson, John Jason Beard; and other family and friends – including her church family of First Baptist Church of Rosenberg.
Funeral services will be held at 2:00 PM on Monday, April 12, 2021, at First Baptist Church of Rosenberg, 1117 First Street, Rosenberg, TX 77471, with Dr. Donnie Melton and Bro. Scott L. Jones officiating. Visitation will be 1:30 -2:00 PM Monday at the church, for 30 minutes preceding the funeral service. Interment will follow the funeral service at Morton Cemetery, Richmond, TX. Pallbearers will be: Jorge Hernandez, John Jason Beard, Art Maya, Charlie Euton, Terry Rial, and Hank Suenkel. Honorary pallbearer – Jim Gutowsky.
DUE TO COVID-19, SOCIAL DISTANCING AND FACE MASKS ARE REQUIRED.
Memorials may be given in Ruth’s memory to the Preschool Ministry at First Baptist Church of Rosenberg, 1117 First Street, Rosenberg, TX 77471 https://tinyurl.com/FBCR-Giving Or, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library — www.imaginationlibrary.com. The program is dedicated to inspiring a love of reading by gifting books free of charge to children from birth to age five. Cards and notes may be mailed to the family at PO Box 38, Needville, TX, 77461, or online condolences may be added to the obituary at www.garmanycarden.com
Services are under the direction of Garmany & Carden Funeral Directors, 1201 Fourth Street, Rosenberg, TX 77471 (281)342-4671.