She Applies What She Learned To Life And Skiing.

At 86 and a bona fide survivor, Ruth DeSouza offers sound advice for seniors.
Credit: Harriet Wallis

When the air raid sirens blared in Bingen, Germany, residents scrambled down into their cellars for protection. The town on the Rhine was bombed again and again by Allied forces.

After each attack, Ruth’s mother would rush to the roof of their building to pick up the burning flares that had been dropped and hurl them off the roof so the building would not catch fire.

Historically, Bingen is on a critical transportation route established in Roman times. During the war, Allied forces were not trying to destroy the town but were aiming their bombs at the major railroad hub and communication lines.

But bomb drops were not accurate. High winds carried them off target into the town destroying schools full of children and homes of those who wanted no part of the war.

At that time, Ruth was an athletic school girl in Bingen. She was a gymnast, practiced ballet, played tennis, and learned to ski on a local farm hill. The turmoil of war shaped her resolve. She learned to expect little but to keep going no matter what.

Today, she lives by the resolve she forged during the war years. Ruth is slim and active at 86. She skis three or four days a week at Alta, Brighton, or Solitude. The other days she walks for 30 minutes. “You have to keep going, and you have to stay strong,” she says.

Ruth’s attitude has always been undaunted. As the war grew worse, Ruth’s family fled from Bingen. After the war, they walked for days to get home. As Ruth walked, she decided to use the fabric of her old school uniform and make a bikini for herself. She envisioned happiness even when life was full of misery.

Today, like the bikini she made long ago, she dresses fashionably and keeps a positive attitude. She advises senior women to be positive also. “Eat right and don’t let yourself get fat,” she says.

To read more from Harriet click here for her stories on SkiUtah.



  1. Alicia Schilder says:

    Enjoyed your article on Ruth, Harriet! She is an amazing woman and we look forward to seeing her on the slopes again this winter.

  2. Great article about Ruth! She is terrific!!

  3. I have skied with Ruth on and off through the years. She is amazing! My hero!❄️⛷

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