Indianapolis and actress Ruby Dee who died Wednesday (June 11) at the age of 91 had a long history with Indianapolis. One of my first memories of Ruby Dee was when she came to Indianapolis with her legendary husband and partner in acting and activism Ossie Davis came in 1978 to Shortridge High School in a performance as part of the City’s Official Black History Month celebration and activities. That was during the time when Indianapolis, through the assistance of the Mayor’s office, helped to sponsor of series of events and activities during February – Black History Month. The next year, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis returned to Indianapolis at the invitation of WTLC-FM to be a part of the WTLC Writers Fair. That was a project of the radio station in the late 1970’s to encourage students in the middle elementary grades in the Indianapolis Public Schools to develop of love of reading through a love of writing. Students submitted essays and winners received prizes and a trip to an out of town educational experience. Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were the highlights of a ceremony in the atrium of the them still new Hyatt-Regency Hotel downtown to honor the Writers fair winners and their parents. This hasn’t been mentioned in the many obituaries and tributes to Ruby Dee, but during the 1970’s, she and Ossie Davis hosted an hour long radio show of drama and dramatic readings. The Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Story Hour was produced by the then National Black Network and it aired on WTLC-FM. It was a unique hour of Black radio devoted to drama, poetry and reading and drama. That type of radio, specifically directed towards African-American has never been attempted or duplicated since. In 1995, Ruby Dee visited the 25th Anniversary Indiana Black Expo. That year the legendary Dr. Maya Angelou was schedule to received Expo’s highest honor the “Freedom Award”. Dr. Angelou couldn’t attend and she sent Ruby Dee to accept in her place. This during a year when Muhammad Ali, Salt-N-Pepa, Barry White and the legendary music producer Antonio “LA” Reid were among the celebrities.
Here’s the OFFICIAL STATEMENT on Ruby Dee’s Passing from Her Family. Actor, author, activist Ruby Dee took her final bow at home in New Rochelle, New York on June 11, 2014. Ms. Dee died of natural causes at the age of 91 while surrounded by her children and grandchildren. Her joyous life continues through the lives of her family and many friends. Ms. Dee was predeceased by her husband, Ossie Davis, in 2005. “We were blessed to have been by her side during her transition. We let her know that we loved her, that we love each other, and that if she let go, we would be OK. We are honored by the rich legacy that she and our father left in our care. Our charge is to share the love and to remain worthy.” -Ruby and Ossie’s Posse-
“The family will have a private funeral service for Ms. Dee. A public memorial service at a later date is in the works, details of which will be announced in the future,” said family spokesperson, Terrie M. Williams.
I know all of Indianapolis joins me in Mourning the Life and Career of Ruby Dee and we savored the times she visited our city and state. All of us Send our Condolences to Her Family and Thank Them for Sharing Ruby Dee with all of us. Click the Media Player to Hear My On Air Tribute to the Legendary Ruby Dee on the occasion of her Passing. Runs 5 Minutes