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Ruth Joanne Cooke Henzie

Loving mother, devoted teacher, longtime volunteer

Ruth Joanne Cooke Henzie succumbed to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease on March 4 and died peacefully at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center. She was 93.

She was a longtime resident of Claremont, living at Mount San Antonio Gardens for the past 20 years. Ruth will be remembered as a wonderful supportive and constant wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend, her family shared. 

She was born December 23, 1925 in Palo Alto, California, to longtime Claremont residents W. Henry and Jennie Pratt Cooke. After her father completed his studies at Stanford University, the family returned to the City of Trees in 1927. They lived on Eighth Street before settling in the Cooke family home on the corner of College Avenue and 12th Street. 

With World War II raging, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Pomona College in just three years—and while holding down a job at the Claremont Inn—graduating in 1946.

In August 1945 she married Rex Henzie, who was home on furlough from England. Rex expected to return to duty right afterwards, but happily, the war ended while they were on their honeymoon.

Ms. Henzie worked as a substitute elementary school teacher up until 1950, when her daughter Betsy was born. From 1950 to 1962 the family called Montebello, La Mirada, San Diego, California, and Tucson, Arizona home, before returning to Claremont for good in 1963. They lived on Northwestern Drive for many years. Mr. Henzie attended Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna College).

After taking time off to raise her three young children, she again began substituting. In 1966 she accepted a full time teaching job at Chaparral, and in 1978 returned to college and earned her master’s degree in education. All told she would spend more than 20 years at Chaparral, retiring in 1988.

She moved to Mt. San Antonio Gardens in August 1998, where she enjoyed a life rich with friends and activity for the next 20 years.

She was a longtime member of Claremont United Church of Christ, where she sang in the choir for 60 years, and served on the deaconesses and as chairman of the membership, hospitality and music committees.

She had an active volunteer presence as well. She was a member of Claremont Heritage, Friends of the Oak Park Cemetery (president 1998-99), Meals on Wheels (president 2002), and a CLASP volunteer tutor from 2009 to 2012, and a volunteer at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center.

She most enjoyed her volunteer years at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, where from 1990 to 2019 she worked as a nature interpreter and trail steward, served as the volunteer association’s vice president and president, finishing her term with many years in the gift shop. The Garden honored her with emeritus status in 2016.

She was predeceased in 1991 by her husband Rex, and by her sister, Mary Miller, in 2013. 

She is survived by her children Betsy Graham (Mark), John Henzie (Mary) and Tom Henzie (Pam); grandsons Taylor, Cory, Rex and Brandon (Nicole); granddaughter Amanda Miller (Kevin); and great-granddaughter Mia Ruth.

“Ruth was over the moon when her namesake great granddaughter Mia Ruth Henzie was born in June of 2017,” her family shared.

Also surviving her is her sister Fran Browne and several nieces and nephews. 

Ms. Henzie had a special association with the family of Rick and Debbi England, attending weddings and other family functions as their “Claremont Grandma.” She and Debbi shared a close and fond friendship for more than 35 years and Ms. England was a steadfast supporter in her later years.

A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 28 at CUCC’s Kingman Chapel, 233 Harrison Ave., Claremont. “Ruth wanted only joy and fond (or funny) memories at her service, not mourning!” her family related.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden at rsabg.org/support/donate; or Claremont Meals on Wheels at claremontmealsonwheels.org/donate.

Her family wishes to “salute a long life, well lived, much loved, and always remembered.”