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Justus, Thelma R

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November 20, 1920 - February 2, 2013

Justus, Thelma R

Thelma Ruth Justus, “Mimi”, was born in East Flat Rock, NC 

She grew up in a large family of kids that were all younger than Ruth. Since the first memories I have of her, she indicated that she had already raised seven or eight kids. Ruth said she was responsible for caring for all of her siblings, so it is clear by her representation that she worked very hard taking care of kids all her life until she finished raising her own two children around 1964.

It’s a shame that Ruth never had the opportunity to pursue her dreams before 1964, because she had to work so hard all the time taking care of family. Ruth graduated valedictorian from her high school in East Flat Rock, NC, so it is obvious she worked diligently at her school work as well. Unfortunately she fell in love after high school and married Curtis E. Brewer, Sr. Curtis Brewer was not well off, but he was a steady worker. Unfortunately, as Ruth learned is likely in high school, she became pregnant within the first year of marriage. Now she was looking at additional years of caring for children.

I’m sure there were moments in time when she and Curtis Brewer enjoyed their love and the experience of being together, but overall the story of Ruth Brewer was a sad one. She expressed repeatedly that she did not like caring for children, but now she was obligated again to raising children due to parenthood. Times were tough early in her marriage because the country was coming out of the big depression. Work was hard to find so Mr. and Mrs. Brewer had to move to Virginia so that Mr. Brewer could accept a job in the shipyards of Newport News, VA. They lived in VA a couple of years and then moved to Houston TX where work was available. The Brewers were a struggling young married couple with two very young children now. “Getting by” was a challenge every day for the young couple, but a few years later Mr. Brewer received an offer to work for an oil well work over company. Mr. Brewer was a hard worker and not afraid of hard labor. After discussion Mr. and Mrs. Brewer decided that Mr. Brewer should accept the offer from Anaco Well Service in Venezuela. 

Mr. Brewer worked night and day on oil wells in South America and quickly became known as a master of engineering. Mr. Brewer was promoted repeatedly and was now in 1953 was able to provide an exceptional style of living for his family; although regrettably, he was not able to live with his family in Houston. Ruth now can begin to consider some of her dreams. Ruth began looking for better housing so her family could move into a middle to upper class neighborhood. It was extremely trying for the entire family because the father was not living at home, but Ruth was used to responsibility and dealing with challenges. Ruth actually began to glow with excitement from the prospects of moving into her new home and her having the new opportunity of decorating her house the way she wants. Finally, Ruth now can get some satisfaction in life because her kids are older and a little more self-sufficient. Wow! This is great! Her husband is earning an excellent income, and Ruth has taken a job so now she can buy things she needs to decorate her house. 

The Brewers were doing so well, when Mr. Brewer came home he bought a 1954 Cadillac and enjoyed the pleasures of a nicely decorated, large two-story home in a neighborhood where millionaires lived in Houston. Wow! The fruits of hard-work was now raining on the Brewers. Ruth was such a generous person that she began thinking of her less fortunate siblings back in North Carolina. Now, around 1955 she discussed with Mr. Brewer ideas she had about helping her brothers and sisters. They agreed that Ruth could invite some of her siblings to come live with them in Houston free of any cost. Ruth was now able to feel something like a philanthropist since four of her siblings accepted the offer. It was amazing how generous the Brewers were, paying for all the clothes, food and housing for Ruth’s siblings. Ruth must have felt very rewarded in life. Income did not seem to present any problems for the Brewers, because when Mr. Brewer came home for “vacation”, he bought a new 1957 Cadillac Fleetwood, and took the family on a cross-country sight seeing tour. 

I guess Ruth had to appreciate her philanthropy, and glean satisfaction out of that, because she was not enjoying a “full” married life as her husband only came to the USA once every year or two.

BOOM! Everything blew up! Literally! Around late 1961 an oil well that Mr. Brewer was working on exploded in South America. Mr. Brewer was flown to Texas with 90 degree burns over his entire body. All of the men on the oil derrick were killed and Mr. Brewer was not expected to live. He was admitted to the burn unit of a Houston hospital and began intensive care. The hospital was able to stabilize him and began burn treatment. Short story – Mr. Brewer amazed everyone and survived! Years of surgery and therapy helped him to be free of pain, and to survive the skin damage; although, he was horribly scarred. What a traumatic experience for Ruth and the family! Then to top off the terrible injury vested on the Brewer family, Ruth was bitten by a brown recluse spider and developed very serious complications. The spider wound healed but Ruth was never the same mentally.

It was a miracle Mr. and Mrs. Brewer recovered, and another miracle that Mr. Brewer wanted to return to work in the oil fields. No sooner did Mr. Brewer return to work, then Christmas 1963 Ruth’s house caught fire in the middle of the night from a defective fireplace. Everyone escaped without harm, but the house was “totaled” mostly from smoke. There was enough structure left to repair, so the insurance company paid contractors to rebuild the house and put the family up temporarily in a Houston apartment. But the saga continued, because about a year later the house was almost finished, and the family did a walk-thru with great pleasure. It was beautiful! OMG!… a week later, painters finishing up the final touches dropped a match in the paint and the whole house exploded in fire again, and this time, because of the fresh paint, it raced through the entire house like a hungry dragon… consuming everything.

That was the end of Ruth’s dreams. 

The marriage between Ruth and Curtis had been strained for years because of the out of country separation. It was admirable that Ruth and Curtis were able to hold the family together, but all of these nightmares by fire were just too much to bear, and the kids moved away so the family fell apart. Ruth moved into another apartment and began to start a new life as a single woman. She bought a little dog and trained him to be very pleasant company. Ruth took up tennis and cross-country walking to keep fit. She became a terrific tennis player and frequently was asked to join in doubles events. She also became active in an association for tennis officials and helped umpire at many tournaments.

One of her brothers that lived with her in her house before it burned was making a good living and began to buy houses in Houston. He asked Ruth if she would like to live in one of his houses and to help him care for his property. She accepted and moved to Katy, TX. She continued her involvement in cross-country walking and tennis, and added property management to her activities. She became known in the Katy neighborhood for her friendly ways, and because she frequently gave favors to the neighborhood kids. The children often wanted to see “The Candy Lady”. That life style went on for years until about 1999 when Ruth moved in with her daughter in Kingwood, TX. Ruth was now about 79 and age was slowing her down. She continued to walk wherever she could, but was prone to sleeping more. As the years went by, Ruth was inclined to sleep more and her walking slowly became a wandering problem as her memory began to fail.

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Service Information

Visitation: A visitation was held on 2013-02-16 at Darst Funeral Home.


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