Jul. 23, 1899 Springfield Sangamon County Illinois, USA
Oct. 5, 2000 Detroit Wayne County Michigan, USA
Ruth was born to Charlie Ellis, the town's first African-American mail carrier and Carrie Farro Ellis, a homemaker. The youngest of the family she had three older brothers, Charles, Harry and Wellington. Despite dealing with the obstacles of racial prejudices, financial hardship and losing her mother at the age of twelve, she graduated from Springfield Illinois High School. After high school a man in her neighborhood taught her how to type set and she helped run his presses.
In 1915, at the age of sixteen, she discovered that she had an attraction to her school gym teacher. After Ruth read, Radclyffe Hall's book "The Well of Loneliness," she researched the term homosexual in a psychology book. She discovered the feelings she had for women had a meaning, which was lesbian. She never did hide in the "closet" even from her father and brothers. In an interview she stated: ""My father would let me have girlfriends over all the time, Ellis recalled. "Nothing ever happened, except one night I had this girlfriend stay and we made a little too much noise. The only thing my father ever said to me was, "Next time you girls make that much noise, I will put you both out.""
In 1936 she met her life companion of thirty years, Ceciline "Babe" Franklin. The following year her brother suggested she would make more money if she moved to Detroit, Michigan. There she worked watching a child and then worked for ten years at a print shop. She and Babe bought a house and eventually Ruth decided to open her own printing shop "Ellis and Franklin Printing Company" in a front room of the house. During the 40's through the 60's their home was the central location for the African-American gay and lesbian community. Ruth was a mentor and role model to many young African-American gay and lesbian adults that visited her home or stayed at their home.
In the 1960's, Franklin, who had a car, decided to move to a place closer to her job. Ellis moved into a senior citizen's center in downtown Detroit, but said she kept a key to Franklin's home. In 1973 Franklin passed away and Ruth remained single from then on out.
With this bio I have just skimmed the surface of a wonderful dear lady. In the 101 years on this earth she experienced a lot for an out African-American lesbian. Ruth was the first woman to open her own printing business. It was rare for any woman to graduate highschool much less an African-American woman. For many young gay and lesbian adults she was a mentor, guide, a teacher and "parent/grand parent." She danced, bowled, painted, played piano, photography and was a dedicated activist. She was a modest and soft-spoken woman who enjoyed her life to the fullest. Less than a month before her death, she helped dedicate the Ruth Ellis Center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered youth in Detroit.
Her request was to have a memorial service instead of a traditional funeral and cremation instead of burial. Her friends placed some of her ashes at different locations at the womyns musical festival in Michigan. They gave some ashes to close friends and two friends took some of her ashes to Ghana and placed them in the sea with traditional rituals.
Burial: Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend. Specifically: Placed on land and on sea.
Created by: AlongSide Record added: May 09, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 14238933