top of page

my dad

Written and Submitted By

Bernethea “NeNe” Rutledge,

Your Bonus Daughter

My Dad, My Granddad, My Poppy, My Deacon, My Friend, Your love and wisdom knew no end. 


You were a great fisher, on land or the sea, And you taught us the importance of patience and humility. You'd share random knowledge and challenge us with big words, And even though we couldn't always keep up, we never got bored.


As a deacon in the church, you shared the word of the Lord, But you also knew how to have fun, which we can all applaud. You made everyone feel special like they were your favorite “one,” And you never failed to make us smile, even when our days were done.


My Dad, My Granddad, My Poppy, My Deacon, My Friend.  Jimmy, all the same, You were a loving man with many names.


You’d take the girls on dates to show them how; a man should treat them, and they should allow; you’d open doors, pull out their chair, And show them how a gentleman should care.


You taught them to be strong and bold, To stand up for themselves, and not to fold, To know their worth and be confident, And never settle for less, but always strive for excellence.


You showed them how to be respected as a lady, And that chivalry is not just an old-fashioned maybe, That respect and kindness are always in style And that they deserve nothing less, with a smile.


My Dad, My Granddad, My Poppy, My Deacon, My Friend.  Jimmy, all the same, you were a loving man with many names. 


You always made time for the young and old, And your generosity, it never grew cold, You taught us kindness and how to give, And how to make this world a better place to live. 


You’d take the boys under your wing, And show them what it means to be a king, You taught them to be respectful and strong, And to always do right, no matter how long.


With your infectious smile and big warm heart, you made us all feel like we had a part, In something bigger, something greater, And your love and care, we'll always treasure.


My Dad, My Granddad, My Poppy, My Deacon, My Friend.  Jimmy, all the same, you were a loving man with many names.


You led the church choir, and your love for music burned like a fire. Music was your passion, your soul's delight; You played with grace and skill, day and night. Your melodies were like a balm for the soul, And you made our spirits soar and whole.


Now you’re gone, but your legacy lives on, In every song, every verse, every dawn. Your faith, love, and kindness still abide, And we know you're with us on the other side.


My Dad, My Granddad, My Poppy, My Deacon, My Friend.  Jimmy, all the same, you were a loving man with many names.

IMG_5473 2.JPG

angela amelia ,lisa janine, jai-lin, nerissa dane, gimi therman, cherub alethia, and omega celeste

angela Amelia, lisa janine,


jai-lin, nerissa dane, gimi

therman, cherub alethia, and

omega celeste

DaddyFinalProgram_Pics 1.jpg

the obituary

He lived a prodigious life. Therman “Jimmy” Ruth born Tuesday, March 31, 1936 in Brooklyn, NY to Ruth Amelia Heywood (Christ Church, Barbados) and Thermon Ruth Sr. (South Carolina.) Grandson of Bishop Beulah Counts “Honey”. His parents met at St Mark Holy Church and were “matched” and married by founder Bishop Eva Lambert.


He was a Brooklyn boy through and through, and Fulton Street was the glue, 1980 Fulton street to be exact. St. Mark is now approaching their 84th Holy Convocation, and Jimmy was present at the very first.


As he would often recall, Bishop Eva Lambert or “Nana”, used music as a tool for evangelism. On Sunday nights when the church would host their musical programs, Nana wouldn't let anyone sing until they received the word first. His roots in gospel came from those Sunday night programs where his dad, (the founder of the Selah Jubilee Singers) and Bishop Townsley Sr. would sing together. St. Mark was the hub for the best music in all of Brooklyn and the place where all of the cool church kids in that day would gather. It is in this environment, rich with the word and music, where Jimmy began his faith and musical journey.


Jimmy’s years as a biblical scholar began early on as he would recall being an active participant in Sunday School where Bishop Townsley Sr. was his teacher. He became a forever student of the Word of God. 


The Beginning


Adolesence to Adulthood

At the age of 16, he was forced to drop out of Boys High to care for his ill mother. He cooked, cleaned, worked and did whatever needed to be done to support the two of them. Jimmy did eventually go back to school getting his GED in 1987 and then his Associates from Medgar Evers College. 


As a young adult, he tried his hand at professional boxing, but soon realized that it was not his calling. He told the story of Bishop Townsley Sr. and his dad coming to see him fight, and how that particular night, he lost. He soon gave up the sport. 


He loved Jazz and Gospel music equally and always wished to play like the greats, but was content being good enough to help when and where he was needed. He would say “I learned to play in the key of F because that was the key Bishop Townsley sang in.” Whether traveling with Bishop Townsley Sr. or staying local at St. Mark, he loved to serve. While on the organ bench his “little brother” Nathaniel Townlsey Jr. would sit next to him and try to copy everything he did. After work at his primary job, he would go to Birdland and see acts we could only dream of hearing live. The man had an ear for jazz! At 86 he could hear a tune and still tell you who was playing on each instrument. 


While at St. Mark, he met and married Barbara Anne Simms in 1959. To this union was born Angela Amelia, Lisa Janine, and Jai-Lin. As a family, they followed his grandmother “Honey” from St Mark as she founded the New Hope Pentecostal Church, a few blocks down on Fulton Street. Following in his dad’s footsteps with the creation of the Selah Jubilee Singers and the Larks; He, Barbara, Maurice “Buck” and Jean Douglas, formed the Dynamic Gospel Rays. Jimmy and Barbara eventually divorced, which in those days was cause for excommunication.

Years later Jimmy was told about a rockin’ music ministry at Zion Shiloh Baptist Church in Brooklyn (Rev. John Pratt) and went to check out the choir. It was there that he saw Sylvia directing the choir and the rest was history; they wed in January 1978. Sylvia, a single mom to Nerissa Dyson and professional singer who’d recently chosen to dedicate her gifts to the Lord,  formed the children’s choir, the Gospel Angels. For years, Jimmy and Sylvia worked together with the choir, impacting the lives of countless vibrant youth. 


On a visit to see Bishop Nathaniel Townsley Sr. in the hospital, Jimmy is recorded saying; Bishop gave him and Sylvia instructions to help out Nathaniel Jr. So, Jimmy brought Sylvia to his little brother's church, The Lighthouse Church of Love and Peace and asked if Nathaniel could find something for her to do in his young budding ministry. Sylvia began working with the Gospel Chorus and also served in the Sunday School ministry. Their children would also become active in the music ministry. 


Jimmy noticed with Sylvia’s voice that she sounded her best when singing in her natural low register. Because of Jimmy's encouragement, Sylvia embraced being a female tenor. Together they would often open up for acts at The Apollo Theater where Thermon Sr. was the promoter. Sylvia joined and recorded with Bishop Townsley’s Concert Choir and later the Gospel Jubilee, and traveled the world. They didn’t stop at making music, to this union was born Gimi Therman, Cherub Alethia, and Omega Celeste.


Meeting "His Bride"


The Workman

Jimmy prided himself on always having a job. In addition to being a church organist, he was also a yellow taxi driver, a salesman at Singer, and later worked at Fieldcrest/Cannon in the security department. As a professional church musician, he served at Zion Shiloh (Brooklyn , NY -Rev John Pratt) Friendship Baptist Church  (Jamaica, NY- Bishop Mitchell H. Hudson) and New Frontier Baptist Church (Brooklyn, NY - Rev. John Quincy Adams). He just didn’t show up to play, but wherever he served he became ingrained in that church’s community. He would even teach Sunday School if asked. He was honored to have been ordained a Deacon by a fellow son of St Mark, Bishop Mitchell Hudson.  


After many years, Jimmy felt a call to retire from playing at other ministries on Sundays so he could have the “St Mark Experience” every Sunday, and he returned home. 


At the age of 8, Cherub, being displeased with the way her school’s newly formed Gospel Chorus sounded, volunteered her Daddy to come and play because they needed help. He started to accompany and teach the choir once a week. The choir soon became a proud feature at PS 273 (Brooklyn) and went on to participate in state-wide choir competitions. Because of how well he engaged with the staff and children, they asked that he join the school community as a Teaching Aide and soon after he was nominated as a Paraprofessional. He worked there for seven years in the special education department and touched the lives of many students and colleagues until his retirement.

Since the days of his youth, he has always loved horses.

You could call Jimmy an equestrian enthusiast. Being active on the internet fed his desire to research breeds of horses. And, in true Jimmy fashion he couldn't keep his findings to himself. He would print or email his children horses he liked, and not just horses; the internet was also a gateway for him to research and share the things he loved with his friends and family.  Even though he was in his 80’s, he stayed active online, printing and sharing pictures of horses, beautiful black women, and emailing articles of all sorts. He loved engaging with all of his Facebook friends sharing his extensive vocabulary and daily findings. When he stopped being active online, people would reach out to Cherub and Omega to say how much they missed his online presence.


One of his other hobbies was fishing. He loved to fish and would take Gimi, and his friends from church, and the Linden Projects on fishing excursions. He would bond with these young men. One of the reasons he loved moving to Far Rockaway was because he could walk out of his back door with his fishing rod and catch his dinner.  


The Hobbyist


The Father,

The Teacher,

The Learner

As a Dad, he showed love in unmeasurable ways. Every payday he would bring home records. He made sure his children were immersed in music of all different kinds. This was his love language. Jimmy believed that there were always opportunities to learn and gain knowledge, not just in the classroom. Especially the power of reading and the value of books.  


He was an avid reader and loved sharing as much information as he could. He would even read New York Times’ articles out loud on subjects he thought were interesting or things he felt they needed to know.  He would make it a habit to frequently use big words to challenge their vocabulary. Until dementia began to take its toll, he never forgot a birthday. He would always be the first call prepared with a song and a card. He would also write a letter, or send an email to let them know just how special they were. He would take his girls on dates, drive them wherever they needed to go, and take his son on fishing excursions. And, not just his biological children, but he loved and supported his children's friends. He was “Pop Ruth'' to so many. He could be found sporting their brands, sharing their music and endeavors online.


Although Jimmy was a well learned and an astute man by many counts, he strived to instill the value of hard work, perseverance and the power of the creative mind to everyone he fathered.


For decades, Jimmy taught Sunday School. He was never ordained as a minister but he found esteemed joy in learning and teaching the Word of God. He could tell you if you misquoted a scripture or used it out of context. He knew the Word by heart and as recent as the week of his passing, would still finish a scripture if you started it. 


Over the years, macular degeneration had robbed him of his love of reading; He didn't let his fading sight keep him from learning new things. With his magnifying glass in hand and with the largest font, he tried his hardest to stay current online and eventually switched to audio books. 

With age, his body grew weaker. His last fall turned out to be a fracture, leading him to spend his final 3 months in the Orzac Rehabilitation Center. He would often have to be reminded of why he was in rehab, and of his injury. When told he would soon be released, he told Cherub that he wanted to go to church. Before his discharge plans could be carried out, God had His own plan. Jimmy transitioned on February 16th, 2023. 


Jimmy was preceded in death by his parents Ruth Amelia Ruth and Thermon Ruth Sr., and his step mother Doreatha Ruth. His brothers, Michael and Eric Ruth. His former spouse Barbara Anne Ruth, and “His Bride” Sylvia Lane Dyson Ruth. 


Jimmy Leaves to Cherish his three brothers, Brett-Ralph “Binky” DeLeon Ruth (Paula), Danny “DannyBoy” Lenore Ruth, and Peter “Petey” Ruth. His seven children, Angela Amelia Bellinger (Melvin),Lisa Janine Ruth-Hunter, Jai-Lin Gray, Nerissa Dane Dyson, Gimi Therman, Cherub Alethia, and Omega Celeste. Nine grandchildren, Melvin III, Joshua, Joel Bellinger, Sean (Jasmine), Erin (Adrian), Jahdiah, Canaan, Sélah and Joni. Nine great-grandchildren, Lyric, Laylah, Sean Julian, Kylie, Gabriella, Adrian Jr., Austin, Ashton, and Emory. Two nephews Eric and Michael Ruth, one goddaughter Valdena Townsley Belton and a HOST of adopted sons and daughters. 


The Finale

DaddyFinalProgram_Pics 1.jpg
DaddyFinalProgram_Pics 2.jpg

Cards & Condolences

Omega Ruth

147 Prince Street Suite 2-46

Brooklyn, NY 11201


Monetary Love Gifts 

Checks: Cherub Ruth

Cashapp $CherubAlethia

ZELLE - 7186126444

Leave a message...

bottom of page