Dennis mourns Ruth Blessing

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Longtime public servant remembered for dedication to community

DENNIS TOWNSHIP -- Longtime Committeewoman Ruth Blessing died Sunday surrounded by her family.

Blessing, 75, was appointed to the committee in 1999, after the death of her husband, Robert, and served continuously on that governing body until completing her term in December.

She had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer.

"Her loss in the election last fall was really a blessing in disguise," said Rosemarie Essig, director of township's popular Senior Center, "because, even when she was suffering and in so much pain, she remained committed to the center and to serving others."

Blessing had been instrumental in the operation of the center, and drew praise from supporters and opponents for her work there.

Blessing, a Democrat, narrowly lost her bid to retain the committee seat to Republican Eugene Glembocki in the November election. During that race, both Glembocki and Blessing’s running mate Mayor John Murphy praised her during the campaign as a dedicated public servant.

Blessing served as the committee liaison for culture and heritage, the senior citizens' center and the township's museum. Located here in the municipal complex, the center is open five days a week to any county resident 50 years of age or older. Blessing was an aggressive advocate for the center and its participants, creating a program that provides access to community services, sports, outreach, and a wide variety of social activities, according to township officials.

"Ruth really had the Dennis Township seniors in her heart. I guess because she was as senior, she knew what people wanted: she knew that seniors want to be active, that they have a wide range of interests," said Essig, who was hired in May 2004, after being interviewed by then-Mayor Georgeann Pettit and Blessing. "You know, even if I hadn't got the job, I knew that Ruth would be a friend. It was great to have worked with her and to have known her."

Blessing, ever appropriate, wrote a thank you letter to people from the center in the last weeks of her life.

"She wrote a lovely letter here, thanking everyone for their support, for the Mass cards, for their thoughts and prayers," said Essig, who became emotional recalling her friend and colleague.

"Ruth knew how to get work done, "she said.

Deputy Mayor Dennis Crippen couldn't agree more. "Ruth was instrumental; she was the driving force that made our senior center as successful as it is today. I took over her duties at the center after she was not reelected last fall, and I have seen firsthand the programs she got into place," said Crippen.

"With Rosemarie at the helm, the work Ruth did here will keep going strong," he said.

"We are looking to expand participation with a postcard drive, but the program is there to bring people in because of Ruth's dedication to her work. I have some big shoes to try to fill at the senior center," said Crippen.

Blessing also left her mark on the township's historical society.

"Ruth wanted to make something of the museum, so we went in there with a handful of senior volunteers and worked seven days a week for 72 days straight to bring that museum together. She was very proud of that work. She worked with us, fought for us, and helped us accomplish so much," said Bobbie Babbitt, past curator of the Dennis Historical Museum.

"She was committed to preserving the history of Dennis and bring that to the people and students here," she said.

Blessing was born Ruth Hoyes on May 9, 1935. She was raised in Shamokin, Pa. by her parents, the Rev. Herbert and Mabel (Robinson) Hoyes; she had two brothers, Harold and Charles Hoyes. Blessing married her husband Robert after high school and together they raised their four daughters in Yardville, NJ.

Blessing and her husband moved to the Clermont section of Dennis Township, after her retirement from the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles and an intervening period of residence back in the Shamokin area.

She is survived by her daughters: Lynn Blessing McDougall of Lambertville; Leigh Ann Blessing Allegretti of Southampton,; Lora R. King (Joe) of Clermont,; and Lisa J. Smith (Mike) of Chesterfield. Blessing had eight grandchildren.

She is also survived by her companion, Harry Hillman.

A memorial service will be held for her at noon on Thursday, Feb. 24 at the Radzieta Funeral Home, 9 Hand Avenue in Cape May Court House. The viewing will be held from 10 a.m. to noon. Interment will immediately follow at the Cape May County Veterans Cemetery.

Blessing's family has requested that donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, Now and Forever Fund, P.O. Box 248, Ocean Grove, 07756 or to the Deborah Hospital Foundation, 20 Pine Mill Road, Browns Mills, 08015.


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