Degrees of Separation: Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee

Oscar-winning actor and civil rights activist Ruby Dee passed away last night at the age of 91. For many of her years she lived in New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City, with her late husband Ossie Davis, also a performer. The two of them were cast together in numerous stage and firm pieces. They shared emcee responsibilities during Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington and she spoke at his funeral. They had been married 56 years when he passed in 2005.

When I was living in Boston in the early 1990s, I met a young InterVarsity staff member named Marc Davidson. Actually, first I met his fiancee, Kim Jackson, who was leaning against a fence watching Marc lead a group of youth in an energetic backyard game that involved a great deal of running and balloon-popping.

Kim was slim and had every hair in place in what looked like a Brazilian blowout a decade before Mrs. Obama made them all but obligatory for professional women. She was wearing a cool white summer blouse and skirt, and looked toward her sweaty fiance, then me, and said: “I’m glad I’m too old to have to participate.” I smiled wryly and agreed.

Kim and Marc and I got to know each other pretty well over the following months. In fact, Kim helped me pick my wedding gown and my fiance hid my ring at their house until he was ready to give it to me.

But here’s the ‘degree of separation’ in this story. Marc’s father was an emergency surgeon in New York City. Marc grew up on the same street where Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee lived.

Me to Ruby Dee: two degrees of separation.

In the Body of Christ, we’re all much closer than we think.

About Carlene Hill Byron

The former editor of New England Church Life and The New England Christian, Carlene Hill Byron is enjoying being home in Maine after 20 years in North Carolina. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild. Find her at, and on Facebook at MyHouseHasHistory.
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