Meet Ruth Thornton & Barbara Mitchell
They’ve Called Simpson House Home Since 2018
A shared sense of purpose
Ask Barbara Mitchell or Ruth Thornton for tips on aging well, and both will tell you that you need to have a purpose. Ask either about life lessons, and they’ll tell you to “stay involved and informed.” No surprise, then, that these two women who have lived their lives so intentionally, found each other and found their way to Simpson House.
Serving the world
Barbara was born in Philadelphia and moved to Wildwood, where her family’s 24-hour restaurant, The Dixie Grill, occasionally catered to celebrities. She met Bill Hailey and the Comets and made burgers and milkshakes to go for Frank Sinatra. As a teenager she also helped run the family guest house. After graduating from Douglass College at Rutgers, she served as one of the very first Peace Corps Volunteers, teaching science and English in the Philippines. By age 24 she had circled the world, and two years later, published Let’s Go to the Peace Corps, a children’s book explaining the process of becoming a volunteer and what to expect. Back in the United States, she completed a master’s degree and a PhD in educational administration from the University of Pennsylvania. She introduced African-American studies to her school in the School District of Philadelphia, and after retirement as a volunteer through her church, First United Methodist Church of Germantown, ran a program for Germantown High School to help keep students from dropping out. Barbara is bilingual and was assistant principal at the district’s Edison High School when she retired.
Ruth was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas and raised in Houston. After graduating from Louisiana College, she earned a master’s degree in biology from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. In the early 1970s, she was president of the Dallas County National Organization for Women (NOW). “That’s how I learned to be a leader,” she recalls.
In 1980, Ruth moved to Philadelphia, where she became involved in Philly NOW and earned a PhD in biochemistry from Temple University. She joined the faculty at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine as an assistant professor and retired as Chair of the Biochemistry Department; she was named Professor Emeritus in 2016.
Both enjoy travel, reading and the arts; both were serious bicyclists. Barbara is a fan of opera, and Ruth is a flautist with the Lower Merion township Symphony Orchestra. Ruth has played sing-alongs at Simpson House several times during the pandemic. Thanks to their shared love of music, they met at a concert at Drexel University. On December 28, 2014, they were married at Germantown Mennonite Church, and in 2018 they moved to Simpson House. They serve together on the Health and Healing Council of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church and contribute book and food reviews and recipes to the council’s “Wellspring” health ministry newsletter. They have been together for 40 years.
Ruth says that having a routine and walking their dog help keep her young. Barbara counsels, “Don’t lose track of the things you love doing.” And Ruth and Barbara are doing the things they love at Simpson House.
Call us today at 215-878-3600 or submit the form below to see for yourself why Barbara, Ruth, and other multi-faceted women choose Simpson House for retirement living.