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Ruth Hart Q&A

Ruth Hart sits before being presented with the Lake Placid-North Elba Distinguished Adult Volunteer of the Year Sunday, May 20 during Lake Placid Community Day at the North Elba Show Grounds. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID – After being awarded the Lake Placid-North Elba Distinguished Adult Volunteer of the Year Sunday, May 20 during the first Lake Placid Community Day at the North Elba Show Grounds, 99-year-old Ruth Hart sat down with the Lake Placid News to answer a few questions.

It was tough to get the questions in at first, as many people wanted to congratulate her and take their photos with her. Before Lake Placid Middle/High School Library Teaching Assistant Patti McConvey took a photo of Hart with Teen Volunteer of the Year Olivia Sawyer, Hart turned to the high school senior and said, “You really volunteer. You really do.” She was clearly impressed.

LPN: How is it to see the young folks volunteer?

Hart: It’s great to see this whole volunteerism throughout the community because nothing would get done. The village and the town have to have helpers to do things, for instance, the simple thing of Thelma Lussi and me doing the tables before breakfast at the horse show. It all adds up, and it’s all fun.

LPN: What gratifies you the most about volunteering?

Hart: The friends I’ve made. And you start with an object and it’s for the better, and seeing the results.

LPN: A lot of people say a lot of nice things about you, and you kind of shake your head. You’re very modest about that, but you know you’ve done a lot, right?

Hart: Well, I guess I have looking back, but it was just part of daily life. And I must have had a most cooperative family who didn’t mind. That just hit me today. I thought, “Oh, my poor family.” But they were part of it, really.

LPN: Because it takes a lot of time is what you’re saying.

Hart: It takes a lot of time, yeah.

LPN: Is there any one cause that really stuck out in your mind over the years?

Hart: You bet. Walmart. Because when you think, Walmart would now be where Whiteface Lodge is and would be closed. And a lot of businesses on Main Street would be out of business. And that was a three-year battle. The fun thing of it was, looking back, Kim Daby, who was the town assessor, was very much opposed. And we had been good friends. So for a while, we weren’t such good friends, although we always spoke to each other and were very civil. But then I thought, “Jeepers, he’s the town assessor. Of course he wants Walmart.” And so we became good friends again. That was a high point.

And it was three years until we got a decision of the New York State Supreme Court, and the decision in our favor hung on really five or six words that the town plan was to preserve the character of the community. And thanks to the good work of wonderful people on our committee, we were able to prove that it would have destroyed the character of the community. And that’s why we won the case.