Ruth Hahn: A legacy of hope

Bethany J. Royer

April 22, 2014

Bethany J. Royer

Staff Writer


PIQUA — The community has lost a legacy as Ruth Hahn, 88, co-founder of the Hahn-Hufford Center of Hope on Garbry Road passed away Saturday while visiting family in Florida. Her story one of hope, hugs, and tenacity that culminated in the development of the Center over 40 years ago with good friend Gloria Hufford. The two having shared an ambition unlike any other as they sought help and answers for not only their children, but others like them.

For Hahn, it was the birth of her son, Tim, in 1949, that began the journey as he did not seem to learn or retain information as other children did, failing first grade and struggling with each grade that followed until the family pulled him out of high school.

A number of visits to doctors and psychologists — who proved unable to help — led to a heated moment of despair in the car followed by a little nudge from above, Hahn had often shared, when she came across a newspaper story on neurological problems and patterning.

Together with Hufford, a mother struggling with an eldest daughter who suffered a brain injury during birth, they went on to create not another doctor’s office, clinic or hospital, but “a family atmosphere that everybody worked together and helped each other,” said Hahn during an interview in May 2013 with the Daily Call after the recent publication of her book Hope Fulfilled: Hands that Give Hope. Sharing the Center’s humble beginnings in the basement of St. Paul’s Church where, as further explained by Carla Bertke, executive director, word got out quickly about the successful neurological program. Growing faster than either mothers could ever imagine it necessitated a move that was made possible by Dimitri Nicholas Sr. who donated space at his felt factory on South Main St.

The Center would reside at the Orr Felt Company for the next 30 years until the state-of-the-art facility was built on Garbry Road, where they offer rehabilitation for neurological development, the Nicholas School, brain wellness center, aquatic therapy and wellness services. The Center serves infants, children and adults who may have suffered a brain trauma, neurological disorders and other related injuries or birth abnormalities.

“Literally thousands of people have been helped through the center,” said Bertke. “Thousands of miracles have taken place thanks to Ruth Hahn and Gloria Hufford.”

While Hahn’s book was written as an aid to others, teaching the importance of neurological development, stressing the importance of tummy-time that aids in vision and other brain stage developments and the Center’s unique history, it was also an opportunity to realize one her biggest dreams — to pay off the Center’s mortgage.

“My dream before my life is done is to have our new center paid off,” said Hahn on a number of occasions, including the opening of her “Imagine If” campaign that marked the Center’s 40th year in March 2012. It was her hope that with support and God’s help, “My dream will come true.”

Though Hahn may have passed before her dream of paying off the Center was realized, there are many who will continue to carry on her legacy. For those who wish to help Hahn’s legacy live on forever, the family has requested memorial donations be made to the “Imagine If” building fund campaign which was established per Ruth’s wishes. (See page 2 of today’s Daily Call for more information on Ruth Hahn’s legacy.)

“She had an infectious personality. One of those people you loved instantly. She was always upbeat, positive, had an abundance of hugs ready to give out at any given moment,” said Bertke, stating Hahn has left her mark on the city of Piqua and the city has been made a better place thanks to her giving and helping spirit. One that leaves a legacy of hope for countless children and adults in the community and across the world. “Ruth truly lived the center’s motto of ‘Hands That Give Hope.’ She will be missed in more ways than can be expressed but we know she will continue to watch over the Center and school to ensure that hope and miracles continue to happen each and every day.”

Carla Bertke, rehabilitation center executive director, contributed to this story.

Bethany J. Royer may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall