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The Daily



06-28-03: Kitchen queen to hang up apron

The Daily Standard
    She can show you how to crack an egg, make a meal in the microwave and grow old gracefully.
    Now, Ruth Anne Foote, a family and consumer science specialist with the Ohio State University Extension office in Celina, will have to learn how to retire as she leaves her job at the end of this month.
    She has served Mercer County in many capacities such as nutritionist, researcher, family financial adviser and teacher for 22 years. Her column, Foote Notes, published in The Daily Standard throughout her employment, is coming to a close - the final article is slated for Monday.
    "There's only been a handful of days that I didn't feel like coming to work," said Foote, who declined to give her age. "I've worked with some wonderful people over the years. That's what makes the difference."
    Foote of Wapakoneta wore the title of "home economics agent" when hired back in May 1981. Things were different then, family life was simpler, she said.
    "The family has changed dramatically. We don't do the same things we did back then," she explained. "Now we have two working parents and more stepfamilies. Credit debt is high and so is obesity among Americans. The focus has entirely changed."
    As an agent, she worked locally teaching subjects like bread- and omelet-making to students in schools, used her expertise in food and nutrition to educate 4-Hers, and gave classes on a variety of family issues.
    Her supervisor at the district level, Bill Haynes, praised Foote's work ethic and leadership skills.
    "I've worked with Ruth Ann for 18 years, and in all the time I've known her, I've found her to be a true professional," he said. "She's not one to get rattled easily."
    Haynes said one particular word comes to mind when he recalls Foote's long career with the agency.
    "Integrity. Regardless whether it's business or friendship, she always brings integrity to whatever she does," Haynes said. "She is one of the most respected people I know."
    Haynes hopes to fill Foote's position in 3 to 4 months, although state funds are tight right now, he explained.
    Foote shares her successes with the extension office staff who has "worked well as a team to meet the needs of the public," she said.
    And simply put, she loves her work.
    "I enjoy finding answers to people's questions," she said.
    She fielded a variety of questions over the years concerning every topic imaginable, she said.
    "Sometimes the most unusual questions are an indication of what can happen to any of us. What's stupid to me and you can be a serious issue for somebody else," Foote said.
    Foote graduated with a bachelors degree in food and nutrition from Iowa State University, and later earned her masters in home economics from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
    After graduation from ISU, she worked for two years at the Stouffer Corporation corporate office in Cleveland. Among other things, she helped develop recipes for the food conglomerate and did taste testing for its frozen food line.
    She married Fred Foote in 1962 and the couple had three children. She was a stay-at-home mother during some of the early years of her marriage before applying for the job as home economics agent.
    "I never dreamed when I came here, I'd retire from this job," Foote said with a sigh.
    Her career as a nutrition agent has taken her on the road to places like Portland, Ore., Toronto, Canada and New York City, where she's given national presentations and brought back ideas to share with local residents.
    Some of the programs she helped develop like "Kid Chef School," an after-school nutrition education program, was shared by other agencies and counties, she said. She has also helped do research on special topics such as teens who choose to be vegetarians, and the benefits of herbal supplements.
    With every topic, she has learned something new, she said.
    "What's interesting with extension work is if the topic's not your favorite, there's always tomorrow."


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