Ruth Nelson - Honored in 2022

  • Ruth NelsonDistinguished Person of Honor

    (Sept. 7, 1937 —           )

    Community involvement is a way of life for Ruth, personally and professionally in her pre-retirement career with the Olathe Public Schools (1976-2009). Working side-by-side with Jim Smith in the district’s Community Development Office, they created the Community Organization Group to unite service organizations in supporting Olathe. Ruth’s award-winning involvement with the Olathe Noon Optimist Club spans decades and includes multiple officer positions locally, statewide and internationally.  Some of her biggest projects with Optimists are summer concerts and oratorical contests to benefit student scholarships and the annual golf tournament to send children with cancer to fun camps. She helped start junior golf academies in DeSoto and Gardner that brought children together to learn about golf and the Optimists. The Olathe’s Got Talent showcase, another of her many Optimist projects, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for student scholarships over the years. She was instrumental in developing the Olathe Mayor’s Children’s Fund Board and chaired it for the first two years. Ruth also helped develop Olathe’s sister cities agreement with Ocotlan, Mexico. The Optimists’ Let’s Grow Together effort raised $18,000 in 18 months to benefit Center of Grace and Boys & Girls Clubs.