Ruth “Ruthie” Collock West, whose infamous Ruthie’s Soul Food restaurants are famous citywide, died Nov. 12. She was 75.
West spent her youth in North Carolina, and moved to Brooklyn after finishing school where she worked her way up from a waitress, to a restaurateur.
Her love of southern soul food and of people propelled West to open her first business in 1967, and then three decades later to open Ruthie’s Soul Food, at 96 DeKalb Avenue, which is still thriving today.
An additional Ruthie’s Soul Food Restaurant is at 560 Myrtle Avenue.
“All of us on Myrtle Avenue are deeply saddened by Ms. Ruthie’s passing.Ms. Ruthie and her family have been neighborhood fixtures for many years, and we are very grateful for the commitment and investment they have made in helping us to revitalize Myrtle Avenue,” said Michael Blaise Backer, Executive Director, Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership.
West was an active member of Friendship Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant where Deaconess Bertha Brown recalled her as a loyal and giving member.
“Whenever anything needed to be done – she would roll up her sleeves.A trustee for many years, she would help out wherever and whenever needed,” she said.
City Council member called “Ms. Ruthie” a jewel in the community.
“She opened the first black and women owned restaurant in downtown Brooklyn, and was known for helping and feeding the poor and homeless over and over again,” said James.
“I am touched by a handwritten note posted at the Myrtle Avenue store that simply reads - thank you, from someone who is homeless,” she added.
“Ruthie” is survived by six children, 22 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, along with other relatives, numerous friends and customers.
©2009 Community News Group
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