By Charlotte Underwood 

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Ruby Leach turns 100 today, Dec. 13. The centenarian will be celebrating this rare achievement with family at 2pm today at the LaFollette Tennova Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

According to Ruby’s daughter, Kathy Byrd, Ruby used to work at Imperial Reading and later at “all the local restaurants, Goins Restaurant, Poor Boys, and the City Cafe.”

“All the restaurants and customers loved her biscuits and gravy,” Byrd said.

Miss Ruby was born in 1923. She was “raised up in the Blue Springs area of Flat Hollow.”

Her parents were Robert “Hezzie” Suttles and Rhonda McCarty-Suttles. In addition to Ruby, the Suttles had 11 other kids. 

Ruby Leach turns 100 today.

In the early 1940s, Ruby married Ken Leach, who was also from the Flat Hollow area. Together they had seven children. Four of the seven are still living. Ruby has a multitude of grandchildren and great grandchildren, “too many to count,” according to Byrd.

“She worked at the old shirt factory and the new shirt factory in the 1940’s, 50’s and a little in the 60s. She had us kids and had so many, she had to quit work to take care of us,” Byrd said. 

It was after her seven children grew up that Ruby began working at the local restaurants.

“She loved to cook; she worked at the restaurants up until she was about 83- years- old,” Byrd said.

Cooking was Ruby’s “passion”, that and flowers. 

According to her daughter, Ruby loved to “trade flowers with people.”

“She always said if you traded flowers with somebody, you couldn’t thank them for them; supposedly it would kill the flowers,” Byrd said.

Her mother also always kept a big garden, selling what she raised to Shelby’s grocery and Woodson’s Cash Store, as well as canning and freezing stuff as well. 

Byrd recalled fond memories of her mother teaching her to quilt.

Byrd was attending LaFollette High School at the time, and the quilt she was making had the LaFollette colors of orange and white.

“That’s what we would do after supper, we would cut and piece quilt blocks and that’s how I made that quilt,” Byrd said. She kept the quilt as a keepsake, rather than using it.

“It’s never been on a bed,” Byrd said.

Byrd had a son and daughter and both of them wanted the quilt, saying it was also Tennessee UT colors. 

“My daughter thought it should be hers, but my son said his blood ran orange, too. I couldn’t choose, so I had a local quilter cut it in half so they could each have a keepsake of their own,” Byrd said. 

Several years ago, Ruby fell and broke her shoulder, necessitating the move to the rehabilitation center.

According to Byrd, her mom has her “good days and bad days, but she’s doing well for someone who is 100 years old.”

“She’s been very blessed to be up there at that nursing home. They have treated her like she was their mother. One lady, Donna Kibler, still fixes her hair and paints her nails, but all of them have been wonderful.  My mom thinks those girls are her daughters. If it hadn’t been for those ladies, I don’t know what we would have done and we are so thankful for them,” Byrd said. 

From all of us here at WLAF, happy 100th birthday Ruby Leach! (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 12/13/2023-6AM-PHOTOS COURTESY OF KATHY BYRD)