It is with heavy hearts that we share that Ruth Allan, known as ‘The Credit Union Lady’ has passed away at the age of 102. Ruth affectionately became known as The Credit Union Lady while administering the School Savings program for First Credit Union, formerly known as Powell River Credit Union, beginning in 1957. After 23 years, Ruth retired from the School Savings program in 1980. More than 35 years after her retirement people still stopped her in the community to recount their memories of her and those School Savings program days. It was a legacy she cherished. Central1 captured the essence of Ruth’s story as ‘The Credit Union Lady’ in this short endearing video released last year.
Ruth’s impact on the lives of thousands of children was significant and long-lasting. In First Credit Union’s 76 year history no one has influenced the lives of so many or been remembered so warmly; her spirit will live on in the hearts of those she touched. In honour of her impact and her significance in First Credit Union’s history, a $1,000 scholarship will be introduced in her name. The Ruth Allan Scholarship will be awarded to a member in grade 12 in the Powell River area who has demonstrated the capacity to save for and contribute to the cost of their education, and who has made a commitment to making a difference in the lives of others.
History of How “The Credit Union Lady” Came To Be
(Sourced from: Start Small, Dream Big – The 75 Year History of BC’s First Credit Union by Linda Wegner):
Following the death of her first husband, Ruth Allan and her two sons moved to Powell River to be near her sister. Her first jobs in Powell River included being employed at a local five-and-dime store, at Powell River Paper during World War II, and later, in the Mill’s paper plant. She remarried into a family of credit union members and consequently joined the Powell River Credit Union in 1949. Ruth was once again widowed when her second husband, Peter Alton, died in an accident at the Mill. A daughter had been born to the couple and now Ruth was left to support herself and her three children.
Ruth was asked if she would like to take over the School Savings program in 1957. Ruth recalls the Directors of Powell River Credit Union visiting her to ask if she was interested. It was an opportunity that proved providential in meeting her financial needs and demonstrated yet more evidence of the commitment of the credit union to care for its members. “It was absolutely perfect for me, being able to be home when my daughter came home from school”, explained Ruth when interviewed for the First Credit Union’s 75th anniversary book.
Ruth’s daughter Evelyn recalls that being the child of The Credit Union Lady carried responsibilities. “Everyone in town knew her and if I was bad they’d tell on me; I could get away with nothing!” she said, laughing.
When she first began with the School Savings program, each student had a card with their name on it. When students brought their money, the appropriate card would be pulled and deposits recorded by hand. With the assistance of other volunteers, Ruth’s responsibilities included visiting ten schools each week. Ruth remembered many good things about her time with the School Savings program including the little boy who used to come, barefoot, across the field to bring her his nickel. Ruth attended his graduation and saw him go off to university.
At First Credit Union’s anniversary, one former student fondly shared Ruth’s impact on her life. The student developed the habit of saving through the school program. She would bring her twenty-five cents to school each week and saved enough so that when she got married, she had enough money to purchase her husband’s wedding ring.
Ruth, The Credit Union Lady, remained as administrator of the program for twenty-three years and a passionate First Credit Union member for the duration of her life. She will be greatly missed, and fondly remembered for her legacy as The Credit Union Lady.