From the get-go, Ruthie took charge at the Thrift Store and kept it humming every week. The second floor (also known as Ruthie’s Attic) was something special. It was the first-stop, go-to place for many a visitor, often asking Lions outside, “Is Ruthie in today?” Through-out her 12+ years as a Lion she was also endearingly known as the “Can Lady“. At 5-cents a pop, she probably cashed in over $1,000 for Lions causes.
In 2012, when Bill Palmer, Club President, announced the Lions of the Year, he nailed it when he said,
Easton has a daily rhythm – when the flags are raised outside each school, when the pumps turn on at Grampies, when the lights come on at Honey Dew.
Saturdays began when Ruthie pulled into her parking space in front of the Grange.
Each Saturday was the same. I would put out the cones, and unlock the dumpster. As I walked back toward the front Ruthie would invariably pull in. She’d get out, give me a wave and a big smile, and we’d both pretend to be surprised to see the other.
“What are you doing here?”
“What are YOU doing here?”
I’d grab a couple of the bags of clothes that she always brought in, and we’d walk upstairs together. The trash barrels on the stage were always full, because she typically worked three or four days during the week. “It doesn’t stop” she’d say. Then “bring me something good from outside.”
One morning I learned that she had worked for one of my construction vendors. Someone had donated a horizontal blind. Ruthie picked it up and began to show me why it wasn’t working. “How on earth do you know that?” I asked. “I made these for years,” she said, then she smiled. The next day I called the owner of the blind company. “Ruthie Calvagne was the smallest giant I ever knew”, he said. “I never knew anyone who worked so hard for so long. How do you know her?” he asked. When I told him she was working at the Thrift Store he said, “that has to be the most successful Thrift Store in the country.”
He was not wrong.
Each week at least one car an hour would pull into the parking lot, the trunk would open and the driver would say, “This stuff is for Ruthie. She knows I’m coming.” We would fill her car by 11:30 with bags of clothes, piles of games, puzzles, and toys. If we were paying attention, we’d leave a gap so she could see with her mirror. But we seldom paid attention.
“Is there any room in my car for me?” she asked every Saturday afternoon.
“Only if you don’t wear your coat”, I answered every week.
On occasion John Tracy drove her car to her house to unload during the day. And we’d fill it up again.
The store will not be the same without her.
The Club will not be the same without her.
Ruthie attended virtually every Lions event – except Junk Day and the fishing derby, because those two activities were held when the Thrift Store was open. Otherwise, if an event was on, Ruthie was there, if only to show support for the Club.
She collected cans and turned them in at the Great Brockton ARC for the Club account, she collected Pennies for Sight, and she attended virtually every meeting, calling out “Thrift Store!” when a store volunteer introduced themselves during member introductions.
The Town will not be the same without her.
To many, Ruth Calvagne was the Easton Lions. Several times people saw my Lions hat, walked over and said ‘How’s Ruthie doing?’ or ‘Tell Ruthie I said hi.’
She made us look good by association.
Ruth Calvagne was voted Lion of the Year in 2011-2012 but based solely on the work she did week in and week out at 192 Washington St she could have rightly been named Lion of the Year annually.
Godspeed, Ruthie. Saturdays will never be the same again.
October 2009 – Joined the Easton Lions
June 2012 – Lion of the Year
President Bill Palmer wrote: Ruth Calvagne has been a Lion for 5 years. Ruth took charge of the second floor of the Grange-Lions Thrift Store/ Yard Sale operation on Rt. 138 next to Buddy’s Union Villa and has kept it humming week in and week out, raising thousands for Eye Research. Ruth also took command of our “Pennies for Sight” operations: those are the little plastic Canisters at local businesses that people put change and dollar bills in. Ruth has been a wonder as “Can Lady”: collecting bottles and cans and recycling them for $ for Lions causes. Ruth Calvagne is just plain cool.
June 2015 – Melvin Jones Fellowship
She was involved in so many activities, her most favorite by far was the Thrift Store. She managed the second floor, working many days during the week, to make it the one-stop shop it is today! She was also instrumental in running the Club’s Pennies for Sight campaign, recycled tens of thousands of cans and bottles, and was active in District events year in and year out.
Ruthie was special. She had the spirit, drive, and heart of a true native Nova Scotian. Nothing could stop her when there was work to be done.
I met Ruthie in 2012 at my first VFW Lions meeting. Her French accent reminded me of home in VT and my Quebec grandmother, who happened to be one of those small French giants! She was very welcoming and invited me to sit at her table. (Lee Williams happened not to be there…) She got me up to speed on everything Lions and introduced me to many members.
When I said I used to be a bicycle mechanic, she lured me in to the Thrift Store crew in no time. The following Saturday I became a member of the Thrift crew. I got to say, it was truly amazing to see Ruthie at work there. When I wasn’t fixing bikes in the bargain basement (I think it’s the Dungeon now? aptly named…), I’d help lug and tug things up and down the stairs to Ruthie; or pile in bags to her car. And when the summer heat was on, or the winter cold arrived, Ruthie had me run up to the attic to tie open or close the ceiling vent door. It was amazing to see what she had stored up there!
What I remember most about Ruthie is she had a big heart for people. When someone was going through tough times, or a church needed baskets for Easter or an X-mas Holly Fair, she’d donate whatever they needed.
That contagious heart-felt warmth was returned by customers ten-fold. When Ruthie was on vacation or out sick, it wasn’t the same. They’d often ask, “When’s Ruthie coming back?” or comment “She’s the best haggler around! — I always get a great deal.” It was Ruthie who brought them back again and again.
Everyone wanted to see Ruthie! We will all miss her dearly, she is truly one-of-a-kind!
Matthew Cioffi (Past President 2016-2017)
Harry and I went to a dance at Oakes Ames Memorial Hall after the Holiday Festival. We sat with Ruthie at one of the tables. The band was playing and no one was dancing. Ruthie looked at me and said “Come on Pattie let’s get this thing going!”. We got up and started dancing and little by little people followed and soon the dance floor was alive. Ruthie danced all night. I loved her spirit. Ruthie made the most of any and all situations. I so admired her determination and zest for life. Ruthie taught me so very much. I will be honoring her by trying to be as generous and caring in my actions as she was. I loved her and miss her so very much.
Pattie Sommers (Past President 2017-2018) & Harry Somers
Use the form below to leave a memory of your journey with Ruth or to make a donation in her name to the Easton Lions.
Ruth M. “Ruthie” (Fournier) Calvagne, age 80, of North Easton and formerly of Jamaica Plain, passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by her family on January 31, 2022. She was the wife of the late Anthony J. Calvagne and former longtime companion of the late Joseph Tabbi.
Born and raised in Saulnierville, Nova Scotia, Canada. She was the daughter of the late Joseph D. And Cecile (Doucett) Fournier. At the age of 18 Ruthie left Nova Scotia and moved to the United States.
She was an active member of the Easton Lion’s Club, where she would volunteer her time and effort to the many causes affiliated to the Lion’s club. Ruthie was an avid stamp collector. She enjoyed baking, cooking, knitting, craft’s and dancing. She also loved the Christmas Holiday season, as well as spending time with her grandchildren and showered them with love.
Ruthie is survived by her two daughters, Roberta A. Barrile and her husband Marco of West Bridgewater and Lisa M. Scolaro and her husband Dominic of North Easton; five siblings, Delima Deveau, Fred, Robert, Daniel Fournier all of Nova Scotia and Gustave Fournier of New Brunswick, Canada; loving Nana of Giovanna Scolaro, Ashlee Barrile, Anthony Barrile and Sarina Scolaro. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews.
Her funeral in which relatives and friends may attend will be held at the Kane Funeral Home & Cremation Services 605 Washington Street Easton on Friday, February 11th at 10:00 am. Funeral mass will be held at Immaculate Conception Church Easton at 11:00 am. Visiting hours will be held at the funeral home on Thursday, February 10th from 4 – 7 pm. Her burial will be privately held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers donations in her name may be made to the Lion’s Club of Easton Foundation P.O. Box 1032 Easton MA 02334 or to Old Colony Hospice & Palliative Care 321 Manley Street West Bridgewater MA 02379.