90-year-old enjoys her drive-by birthday parade

By Patty Hullett
Mirror correspondent

Ms. Ruthell Hamil loves to attend her Midlothian place of worship, Creekside Church, 

located at 5401 East Highway 287. She has been a member of this Church of Christ body of believers for 57 years now. But after passing out in her ladies’ Bible Study almost a year ago, her life has changed dramatically.

In the middle of her regular Tuesday morning class (called “The Cracked Pots”),

she fainted due to her seriously low blood pressure, and the fire and rescue units responded quickly to come to her aid. Hamil was immediately taken to the local hospital, where she underwent some testing, but then was treated and released. Since that time, she has been so afraid to get back out in public and to do things like attending her church on Sundays or being a part of her weekly Bible Study group, that she is now home-bound and considered a shut-in.

Ms. Ruthell Hamil is the birthday queen.

But Saturday, Nov. 7, she ventured outside as her church, family, and friends came to visit her in DeSoto to celebrate her and her 90th birthday milestone.

Hamil’s daughter, Phyllis Taylor, organized a surprise birthday parade in her mom’s honor, along with the help of Hamil’s grandson, Matthew Taylor. The group of church friends, her family, and other key people in her life, gathered at 11 a.m. last Saturday morning at the Hampton Road Baptist Church to line up the cars and to finish the final touches on their automobile decorations.

Everything from streamers, balloons, signs, cards, and even fresh flowers were set to go when the DeSoto Fire Department firetruck led the short route to her nearby home at 11:30 a.m. There, Hamil sat in front of her house in a makeshift tent with awning, so she could enjoy her birthday by way of a parade passing by her home in her honor.

Friends line up for Ms. Ruthell Hamil's 90th birthday parade celebration.

Ms. Taylor also surprised her mother by asking others to send birthday cards to brighten her mother’s birthday, having to be spent at home due to the COVID pandemic. But her friends and family rallied in support, and at last count, Hamil had received 160 birthday well-wishing cards by U.S. mail.

Taylor says, “My mother thoroughly enjoyed getting to see everyone and greatly appreciated all the efforts on her behalf. She had a terrific day.”

Hamil celebrates lifetime of memories

Hamil was born Nov. 5, 1930, in Telephone, Texas, a small town situated at the junction of Farm Roads 273 and 2029 in northeastern Fannin County, approximately 17 miles northeast of Bonham and 32 miles northeast of Sherman. She is the daughter of Mr. and

Mrs. Eugene B. Harrison, who had 13 total children, but 3 died before the age of 3. Hamil was sibling No. 8 out of the remaining 10. She has one brother, the youngest,

still living.

The Harrison family was rather poor in the 1920s and 1930s, so they worked very hard as sharecroppers on a huge farm in the Telephone area. Hamil and her four sisters and five brothers all had to help with chores on the homestead and pull their own weight on the farm.

Hamil tells several stories of how she would beg her father (almost daily) to go to school. She so wanted to get a full high school education and finally got him to agree that she could attend school after hoeing a complete row in the fields early in

the morning. After years of believing the kids needed to work at home instead of go to school, Hamil’s dad finally softened his stance and generously made arrangements with the school bus driver that lived down their road to let Hamil drive the bus home every day, and then drive it back to his house the next morning. So, after doing some strenuous work in early morning hours, she would drive to bus driver’s house, get to school on time and then enjoy her day at school. Afterward, she would drive herself the rest of the way home in late afternoon and scurry back to the fields to work until

almost dark.  She made it through when she finally graduated from Bonham High School in 1947.

Hamil happily shares, “I was the only one in my family that graduated from high school, but I was determined to get my diploma – and I did.”

Loving education became a huge portion of her life. She has spent a lifetime loving to read. And these days, even when she’s stuck in her home, she enjoys reading all the books that she can get her hands on. (Recently, her church sent her some new books for her reading enjoyment.)

After her schooling was over, Hamil came to Dallas and worked various jobs, including doing some modeling. In February of 1952, she met her future husband, Johnny Hamil. They married July 3, 1952, and thereafter raised two children. John and Ruthell Hamil were very active in church. John served as an Elder for 23 years in the church, while Ruthell was involved heavily in the ladies’ Bible study groups. The Hamils were married for nearly 61 years before his death in 2013.

Hamil never attended college, but she did do some substitute teaching in DeSoto during a portion of her working years. Her influence also spearheaded her daughter’s teaching career, with Taylor deciding to follow somewhat in her mother’s footsteps. Taylor went on to graduate from college with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education; she recently retired from the DeSoto ISD after 36 years, and 21 of those years were as a second grade educator. 

Taylor’s son (Hamil’s grandson), Matthew Taylor, and is also an educator, at Highland Park ISD, where he works as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology.

Over her 90 years, Hamil has been very active in several clubs and organizations, as she has always enjoyed giving back to her community. She was a very energetic participant during her 57 years of living in the city of DeSoto, and where she still resides.