St John has been our home for over forty years. Janet and I first arrived in the Virgin Islands in July of 1969. We were immediately taken not only with the beauty of the island but the graciousness of its people. We made fast friends in some of those first encounters and to this day still have those friendships.
It wasn’t long after our arrival that first our son (Amos) was born. In those early carefree days, months and years St John was truly an adventure, not without its challenges, but certainly an easy lifestyle of just meeting daily needs. Our second child, Ruby was born in 1975, named by her mother only seconds after she entered the world as the doctor raised her for all to see and declared, “it’s a girl”. Our lifestyle began to change again as we now had two little children to care for and our efforts focused on building a nest for our little family. Within five years Janet had enough courage to bring forth another girl and Sophie was born! Our family was now complete and life was good.
Time went by and our family matured to the point where Amos was off to school in the states, Ruby was in her final year at American University in Washington, DC, and Sophie was at a boarding school in upstate New York. The holidays brought us all together on St John and with our friends we enjoyed so many good times that life could not have been better.
Then tragedy struck without warning or recourse, our beloved Ruby was killed in an auto accident in the city we loved, Washington, DC. Our hearts sank to a place so deep that it cannot be explained. Our friends immediately gathered around us to console our grief stricken souls and help us do the necessary things one must do to bury a child. It has taken me fourteen years to publicly say thank you to all those that consoled our grief, prepared the home burial plot, built a beautiful casket out of donated hardwoods, cried the many tears that it takes to bury a child and help us heal our broken hearts.
St John and its people have helped our family survive this terrible tragedy. To this day there is a sorrowful corner in all of our hearts that will forever remain tender and full of sadness. Now, fourteen years later, our children, grandchildren, friends (both old and new), the St John Community and the whole of the Virgin Islands have helped Janet and I survive this tragic loss.
The annual Ruby Rutnik Scholarhip Fund softball tournament is living testimony to the heart and soul of this community. For fourteen years we have brought together young Virgin Island girls to enjoy the game of softball, experience the special St John hospitality and remember Ruby! No greater words, deeds or actions can equal this tribute to our daughter and for this we are forever grateful.
The many young women who have benefited from the scholarship fund are a living legacy to our community. Through their successes and achievements we take comfort and joy that our community has but one heart that beats strong now and forever.
Andrew Rutnik, St. John