Ruby Davidson Long
FARMINGTON – Ruby Davidson Long passed away at age 99 on May 9, 2022, at her home in Farmington, Missouri. She was greeted in heaven by her beloved husband, Mick Long, her father, William Wakefield Davidson, her mother, Minnie Williams Davidson, and her brother, also William Wakefield Davidson. She is survived by her grandchildren, Billie Phillips of Alabama, Nell Green of Arkansas, and her nephew, Gary Davidson of Hawaii.
Born on September 15, 1922, in the small rural community of Van, Arkansas, Ruby had a long and remarkable life, distinguished by many achievements, particularly in the field of education. Having only an initial eighth grade education herself, Ruby went on to become Dr. Ruby Long, teaching teachers in the graduate program at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. In between, she had extraordinary adventures and was an early influencer and researcher in what would become Special Education, including seminal research and work with students with autism.
Ruby’s successes in whatever she tried can be attributed to her brilliant intelligence, and also in no small measure to her kindness, generosity, and compassion, which she showered on people of all races and stations in life. Her love of all God’s creatures, whether human or animal, was evident in the number of deep friendships she formed and the numerous birds, raccoons, deer, and cherished house cats she fed and nurtured throughout her life.
A few examples among many serve to illustrate Ruby’s mastery of anything she attempted. During World War II, having gone north from Arkansas to work in a war production plant in Nebraska making fuel tanks for bombers, her capabilities were quickly recognized by the plant’s manager, who made her supervisor of her division despite her protests that she had no supervisory experience. It was during this time that she met her future husband, Mick Long, a pilot for the Air Corp. Thus she began 54 years of marital bliss until Mick’s passing from her in 2000.
After the war, Ruby’s lifelong love of reading altered her life and put her on the path of education. While helping to found and working as the first librarian in Marble Hill, Missouri, Ruby became one of the first in the state to organize and drive a bookmobile serving all schools in Bollinger county, as well as leaving books and magazines everywhere she could, from grocery stores to local bars. It was here that she was discovered by the local Superintendent of Schools, who dragged her to the Dean of Education at Southeast Missouri College in Cape Girardeau, where she was quickly admitted and graduated with honors. From that humble beginning, Ruby catapulted though graduate studies that culminated in her receiving her Doctorate Degree from the University of Missouri in Columbia.
After going to work for Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, she developed the coursework for their first degree in Learning Disabilities. As administrator of the Special Education department, she taught, placed, and supervised student teachers throughout the Edwardsville and St. Louis area. While there, Ruby testified at US Senate hearings and helped write the laws that would eventually become the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Ruby was a lady in every sense of the word, a virtue instilled in her by her mother when she was still young. As a lifetime member of the Red Hat Society, one of her would often see her going about her in her signature hats of her, especially blue ones, her husband’s favorite color of her. Throughout her life de ella, Ruby Davidson Long was a force to be reckoned with, affecting and uplifting the lives of thousands of students, parents, and fellow educators, always with the belief her mother de ella taught her to treat all people with honor and respect.
Published by Daily Journal Online on June 2, 2022.