Willie Ruth Law was born at home on Friday, February 25, 1921 in Macon County, Tenn., the only child born to the late Snorrie and Mamie (Overton) Sailers. She was married to Bennie Earl Law in 1943, who preceded her in death on January 31, 1973. To this union, in 1955, was born a son, Randy, who survives and resides in Mt. Juliet. Ms. Ruth’s teaching career spanned for 65 years. She began her teaching career at Leath Chapel in Siloam in May of 1941 with a certificate to teach from Austin Peay University at a salary of $55.00 per month. In 1958, she received her B.S. degree from Middle Tennessee State University. From the time she began teaching, she touched many lives as she taught throughout the county at Cross Roads School where she taught all eight grades, Keystone, Lafayette Elementary School, Pisgah, where she again taught all eight grades and at Fairlane School in 1957, the year the school opened. Ms. Ruth often told childhood memories of playing school under a giant oak tree and cutting the Sears Roebuck Catalog people out to use as her students. She knew at that time that she wanted to be a teacher and being determined, she fulfilled her dream. As a child, she walked two miles to school. After she started teaching, she would recall arriving at school two hours before the students to build a fire in the stove during the winter months.
She and the children would sit around the stove wearing their coats and over shoes all day to keep warm and they would put used motor oil, donated by garages, on the floors to keep the dust from forming. She taught when they would raise money for the schools by holding pie suppers, cakewalks and fishponds. She saw the schools change from all the students’ drinking water from one water bucket and one dipper to individual drinking cups, pump in the well, a concrete fountain and the electric drinking fountains. Ms. Ruth often recalled, in the earlier years, they would have an annual picnic. She would make banana pudding in a dish pan, buy sticks of bologna and bread, load the students up in a pick-up truck and go to a large cow pasture where she and the students would play and eat all day. Her first car was a Model A Ford, which she bought while teaching at Cross Roads. Ms. Ruth was a member of the Macon County Retired Teachers Association and served on the first Library Board when the Library was opened in Lafayette. She was a member of the Tennessee Education Association and was recognized in 1984 for having the longest membership, which, at that time, was 42 years. She received this award along with other teachers, who have been teaching legends receiving 30-year awards; Ms. Ruthie Shrum, Ms. Mazie Wilburn, Ms. Vauda Cothron, Ms. Annette Cothron, Ms. Philena Blankenship, and Kenneth Doss. Ms. Ruth was the Coordinator for the Board of Education’s Adult Literacy Program for several years. Ms. Ruth was quick to tell you that her gratification from teaching was her joy of seeing children grow and advance in learning and become worthy responsible citizens and this far outweighed any discomforts and disadvantages she had to experience as a teacher. It was worth it all to her to see students that had been in her classroom grow up and become ministers, principals, business people, managers, housewives, teachers, and professionals in virtually every walk of life.
Ms. Ruth was saved when she was nine years old and was baptized and joined the Rocky Mound Missionary Baptist Church on October 5, 1952 where she had taught Sunday School. In her earlier years of teaching, her students will cherish the memory of her reading a bible verse to them, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1). No one will dispute that Ms. Ruth had a good name and the day she retired from teaching, Macon County Schools lost an icon within the teaching profession.