Ruth Prins: special thanks

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Special thanks

By Clay Eals

No big project is the accomplishment of just one person, and I have many people to thank for helping me bring this Ruth Prins package to fruition. Among them:

  • Casey McNerthney, veteran broadcast pro and historian, who alerted me on April 26, 2021, that Ruth was still alive at age 100. This prompted me to pursue a written piece on her that, following her Nov. 6, 2021, death became an in-depth obituary.
  • Joe Wren, the mighty and long-serving archivist at KOMO-TV, who came to my rescue by converting “Wunda Wunda” kinescopes to digital format on his own time and with his own passion. The results of his work are on The Kinescopes page, which Joe assures me will grow in the coming months.
  • The 34 people (including some close friends) who, with less than 48 hours’ notice, voted with their feet and ventured to Magnolia Boulevard Viewpoint on Dec. 5, 2021, to visually reflect Ruth’s enduring connection to Seattle and countless thousands of children who grew up absorbing her zest on TV.
  • The thousands of people who posted comments about Ruth in recent years on Facebook, including a fan page devoted to her. Their insights crucially augmented my own understanding of Ruth’s impact. A tip of the hat to Jim Cull, active on the fan page.
  • Those I interviewed for the cover story, some whose comments (abbreviated by me) made their way into the text, and others whose insights I could not fit in. I’m especially grateful to have been able to chat with the last surviving longtime local children’s TV host (and a favorite of mine as a child), 94-year-old Brakeman Bill McLain.
Debra Prins, holding Benjy Bear, at Dec. 5, 2021, photo shoot

Most of all, however, I am indebted to Debra Prins for her generosity and trust. She perceived the need for Seattle to celebrate the life of her mother in print and gamely shared with me countless photos, clippings, ephemera and artifacts that made the story (and its extended version here) full of richness and joy. Her friend Shirley Wright, a former teacher who worked in Ruth’s preschool, also was a huge help. Both Debra and Shirley remain stalwart denizens of Magnolia.

As a celebration of Debra’s role (and her mom’s wit), please enjoy these custom birth announcements for Debra and Bob Prins, which are laced with gentle dramaturgic humor. Click once or twice to catch all the touches of wit:

Sept. 26, 1943, Robert Prins birth announcement. (Courtesy Debra Prins)
June 11, 1950, Debra Prins birth announcement. (Courtesy Debra Prins)

If you have questions about this Ruth Prins cover story and/or would like to contribute additional items to this online presentation, I would love to hear from you. Call me at 206-484-8008 or email me at ceals@comcast.net. Thanks!

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