Ruth (Miller) Tapscott, age 99, of Derwood, MD passed away at home on June 6, 2021 surrounded by her loved ones. She was preceded in death by her husband, James Robert Tapscott, parents (Jacob and Maggie Miller), two brothers (Ted Lowry and Henry Miller), sister (Mary Harrell), and two grandsons (Jacob Smith and Lucas Tapscott). Ruth is survived by four children - Martha “Marti” Tapscott Skogebo (Allen), Robert “Sonny” Tapscott (Linda), Rosemary Tapscott Smith (Larry), and John Jacob Tapscott (Mindy) - as well as 13 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, and 4 great-great grandchildren.
Born on October 19,1921 in Greenville, Tennessee, Ruth grew up in farmland surrounded by rolling hills and sparkling rivers in a home built by her father. She had a pony named Bill, a bulldog named Boozier, and a cat named Snozzle. She developed a fondness (obsession) for basketball and played aggressively through elementary and high school as well as during her single year in college.
With the advent of Pearl Harbor her world changed drastically. She left college and moved to Washington, DC in 1942 to join the Federal Bureau of Investigations in support of the war effort. She arrived via Greyhound bus with a single suitcase and bivouacked at the YWCA. Later she and two other girls shared an apartment above a mortuary on Michigan Avenue. During her tenure at the FBI she was again able to indulge her passion for playing basketball. She continued to play on the FBI team until 1955. In July 1956 Ruth resigned from the FBI and for a time was a stay-at-home-mom to her 4 children.
Basketball was a central theme throughout her life. While she loved most sports, basketball was her heart. From high school and college and ultimately to the FBI team she pursued athletic excellence. In October 2020 she traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame to celebrate her 99th birthday and her contributions to the sport. She was still sinking baskets like it was 1945!
Once her children were all in school, Ruth joined the National Geographic Society at their headquarters in Gaithersburg, MD as a subscriptions file clerk where she retired in 1987. Her work allowed her access to cancelled stamps from all around the world. She had an impressive collection of them that she shared with her sister. Her days at NGS were happy and she made many life-long friends.
In 1947, Ruth met her future husband, Jim. He was a country boy from Virginia and was instantly smitten with Ruth. Her fierceness on the court intimidated him at first, but he came to love that as well as her mischievous smile and indomitable spirit. After a brief courtship filled with chocolate milkshakes they were married on September 30, 1949. They honeymooned at Niagara Falls and paid for everything with silver dollars they had saved.
They resided in Washington, DC for a time, but both longed for a bit of land in the country to call their own. Jim bought a small lot in Derwood, Maryland as a gift for his new bride (and her mother who had come to live with them). As soon as they were able they moved into the only apartment building in Derwood next to the railroad tracks. They lived in a “second floor walk-up” and quickly got used to the sound of passing freight trains. The babies came along and Jimmy had to get busy on house building. There was no electricity on the lot so he did a lot of sawing by hand. Finally in early 1955 the house was finished, they moved in, and settled into country life, raising a huge garden, chickens, geese, and a hog. As the years went by they added fruit trees, grape vines, and berry patches. By the fall of 1957, they had four children of their own and frequently had stray animals and foster children who called the Tapscott house home. Jim’s garden became a primary source of produce for much of the then-small neighborhood. They bartered corn and tomatoes for fresh milk and peaches. Ruth canned hundreds of jars of vegetables and meat every summer and fall (and finally passed on her pickle-making skills to one of her daughters). The yard was full of children, dogs, cats, ponies and joy. The family attended Derwood Bible Church faithfully - initially in the old white building by the train tracks, then in the brick building on Redland.
The church was the foundation of Ruth’s family. Her love of the Lord was the only thing that came before
basketball - - umm, family. Her church became her extended family and main source of social interaction. Sunday services, Wednesday night prayer meeting, Friday night youth group, and annual summer vacation Bible school provided the final piece to their country idyll.
Ruth has seen Derwood grow from sleepy cow and farm country to the thriving suburban neighborhood it is now. In sixty-seven years almost everything has changed - except for her. She still loved basketball. She was overjoyed to see her family grow and cherished each and every birth of a new little one. She still read her Bible and prayed every day. She still made silly faces in pictures and hauled firewood, disregarding every suggestion that she “slow down”. As family and friends passed on she grieved their loss, but never gave in to sorrow. Until the very end she was full of life and mischief and joy. She set the bar high and expects her family to carry on with love and kindness. She was one of a kind. Derwood won’t be Derwood without her - but she left it a better place and left those who knew her with a legacy that time will never alter.
Visitation will be held at The First Baptist Church in Beltsville, MD (4700 Odell Rd., Beltsville, MD. 20705) on June 10, 2021 at 10 a.m. followed by funeral services at 11 a.m. A brief graveside burial service will take place immediately following the church service at Norbeck Memorial Park in Olney, MD.
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