A former Upper Eden woman who moved to Uruguay when she married in 1966 has died at her home in Montevideo.
Ruth Watson Frisch was born on January 15, 1940, and was the youngest of four children born to George and Elizabeth Watson of Ivy Hall, Raisbeck.
She was born albino, which meant her eyesight was poor and as a very young child she had to wear strong glasses.
This in no way stopped her joining in all the activities that country children enjoyed at that time. She always had a wicked sense of humour which she kept all her life.
Ruth attended Kirkby Stephen Grammar School as a boarder and the tales she told of life there were the stuff of a Dickensian novel.
She did well at school, sitting in the front seat so that at the end of the lesson she could go up to the blackboard to see what the teacher had written on it. After her A-levels, she wanted to become a teacher, but was turned down by several colleges until Canon King, who was the local Anglican clergyman and also the chairman of Westmorland Education Committee, wrote her a reference.
Portsmouth Teacher Training College immediately accepted her and so she trained to become a primary school teacher.
Ruth met the man who would become her husband, Diego Frisch – then a student at Cliff College in Derbyshire – when he visited the Watson family for new year at the beginning of 1959.
At that time no one detected any blossoming romance and later that year Diego moved on to Westhill Youth and Community Training College in Birmingham.
However, when Ruth’s father suggested she might want to get a teaching job close to home, she chose to move to Birmingham, where at a Sunday evening service at Selly Oak Methodist Church she met Diego again.
The family knew nothing of this until Diego came back to England from his native Uruguay in 1964 to ask Ruth’s father, George Watson, for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
In 1966, Ruth booked a passage on a ship from Tilbury Docks which would eventually take her to her new life in Uruguay. For a farm girl from Westmorland, Birmingham had been a big adventure, but the prospect of Uruguay was something on another scale.
Ruth later admitted that she had been scared stiff and matters were not helped by a last-minute dash to secure her visa, which literally involved a race against time to get to the Uruguayan Embassy in London the day before she sailed.
There had been no time for lengthy farewells, no speeches beyond “tara lass,” from her father, but Ruth was off to a new life and the great spirit of adventure that had always been with her, would see her through the exciting, challenging times ahead which involved learning a new language and learning to cope in a very different culture that she came to love.
Ruth and Diego were married in Buenos Aires in December 1966 and since Diego was a Methodist minister in Uruguay, they moved around a little, first to a small town in Uruguay called Serandi Grandi – where their son, Duncan, was born in 1970 and daughter, Andrea, in 1973 – then Mercedes, followed by Maldonado.
During this time, there was a period of political unrest in Uruguay and, as a result, Diego and Ruth returned to England, where Diego served as a Methodist minister in Moseley, Birmingham, from 1982 to 1989.
On returning to Uruguay, Ruth and Diego moved to Salto on the Uruguay River opposite Concordia in Argentina. Here it was that Ruth began working with autistic children. She never lost her love of educating children.
After a very active time in Salto, they moved to Montevideo where they ran a youth club and kitchens to feed young people. In Montevideo, as elsewhere, their house was always full of people coming and going. Ruth had always loved cats from being a little girl, so a cat was a regular on photographs from Montevideo.
Up until August last year, Ruth regularly went for a run to keep fit, but in September began to feel tired.
It was discovered that she was anaemic, so she was given blood transfusions, but she was diagnosed with leukaemia and did not respond to treatment.
During this time Diego was out for a walk and fell, banging his head so ended up in the same hospital as Ruth, unable to speak and, for a time, in a coma. The hospital and family cared for Ruth well and so she was able to return home for her last few days, dying with family and friends around her on March 8.
She was buried in the British Graveyard in Montevideo the next day. She leaves behind her husband Diego, son Duncan, daughter Andrea, son-in-law Andy and grandsons Fabricio, Nicholas, and Santiago.
Ruth’s spirit of adventure, love of people and cats, curiosity about the world, passion for education, and religious faith inspired many people.