By Steve Jusseaume
Hampton Union, Friday, June 15, 2001
HAMPTON - It may have taken 36 years, but Ruth Stimson finally received recognition this week for her efforts in turning a small patch of town-owned land at North Beach into a natural seaside park.
On Wednesday, Stimson was the guest of honor at 'An Evening at Ruth G. Stimson Seashore Park', wherein the quarter-acre piece of shorefront land which at one time was the location of more than half-a-dozen fish houses was officially dedicated and a plaque unveiled naming the park after her.
More than 100 residents, many friends of Stimson, gathered at the green space at 7 p.m. Wednesday, where they witnessed the presentation of the colors by the Hampton Militia, a three-gun salute from the militia's two-inch cannon, two historical speeches and several presentations to Stimson, including a certificate of appreciation from the Board of Selectmen for Stimson's five decades of volunteer service to the town.
"Ruth has worked tirelessly to make Hampton a better place to live," said Selectman Bonnie Searle, noting Stimson's efforts decades ago to establish the Conservation, Mosquito Control and Shade Tree commissions. "Ruth is an artist and historian," Searle said, adding that even at her age, she is still involved in the town, most recently hosting a workshop at the Lane Library on sharpening garden tools.
Stimson, 81, was instrumental in cleaning up what was once a trash-strewn, weedy section of land looking out over Plaice Cove. Harold Fernald and Betty Moore gave overviews on the history of the parcel of land, Stimson's work, and the 40-year effort to honor her accomplishments.
Moore, president of the Hampton Garden Club, recalled when the 1960 Town Meeting voted to "maintain as free public property forever that area known as the fish house area." At the time, Stimson was president of the Garden Club, and undertook a two-year project to clean up the site.
Rubble and debris left from the demolition of some of the fish houses was removed, a chain link fence along Ocean Boulevard was erected with $800 given to the club, rocks were bulldozed back toward the sea by the highway department, and, in 1961, loam was trucked in and red cedars, white pines, rosa rugosa and other native plants set down, Moore said.
The 1965 Town Meeting voted to name the park in Stimson's honor, but little was done during the ensuing years.
At the 350th anniversary of the town, Harold Mace gave his fish house to Hampton. The house was then restored by, among others, town employees Edward Ryder and John O'Brien. Work has continued over the decades to make the area one of Hampton's most beautiful - and overlooked - parks.
Moore cited Stimson's great love of the outdoors, her 51 years as a member of the garden club, and her 50 years as a judge at the Deerfield Fair. Stimson was also cited by the National Council of State Garden Clubs in 1965 for her work with the salt marshes, and was presented a Municipal Volunteer Award in 1995, Moore said. Nancy Coes of Briar Road was among those who attended the dedication. "Ruth's name is synonymous with volunteerism and the environment. Before we used the term environmentalist Ruth was concerned about the town, its wetlands and marshes," Coes said.
Others attending the dedication included Fred Rice, selectmen Skip Sullivan and Jim Workman, and Paul Corbett, who unveiled the plaque along with members of Boy Scout Troop 177, in honor of Stimson.
Marilyn Wallingford, co-chairman of the dedication along with Fernald, presented Stimson with a photograph of the park and the Mace fish house.
Stimson thanked all those who attended the event and recalled the decades of work in establishing the park. She recalled the Blizzard of '78, when the area was washed out and the Mace fish house nearly destroyed.
"This place used to be a mess, yes, but a lot of people did a lot of work to clean it up. I remember that big storm in 1978, and the old fish house. They had to bring 125 tons of rock in to build up a barrier at the sea... I'm just real honored to be here today," Stimson said.