Ruth Wheeler Weed

Ruth Wheeler Weed, 88, died peacefully on Monday January 6, 2019 of congestive heart failure in her room at the Masonic Homes of Louisville, where she had lived with dementia for the last ten years.

Among the first women to be allowed to attend Duke Divinity School at Duke University, she graduated with a Masters of Religious Education in 1956. She was an outspoken civil rights advocate in the late 50’s and all through the 60’s in the Raleigh Durham area.

She became an elementary school teacher who taught for more than 30 years, and in 1969, she was the first white teacher in Durham County to volunteer to teach at what had formally been an African American school, Little River Elementary School, for which she repeatedly received threatening phone calls from white supremacy advocates.

When friends were the first to sell their home to a black family—and their lives were threatened, Ruth took them into her small apartment and harbored them for over a month to protect them from violence.
During the same period of the late 1960’s, she also founded the first youth program at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Durham, the organization known at the United Methodist Youth Fellowship. She also, for several years, organized the annual collection of money for UNICEF in the north Durham region.

She was born and raised on a large farm in south-central Hart County, Kentucky and was an avid amateur family genealogist. Her contributions, though never published, do appear on Her work, because of her extensive documentation, led to discussions in the Kentucky State Legislature of making her family farm a historic state park. Although the farm continues to have all of its original pre-Civil War historic farm buildings intact, including the large house, funding for a park was never secured.

She was a loving wife to her husband, Orel Gilbert Weed, to whom she was married for 25 years. She was kind, optimistic and supportive of everyone she came to know. She had a great sense of humor and will be missed dearly.

She is survived by her son, Mark Conway Medlin, his two children, Keller Drew Medlin and Meredith Ann Medlin; as well as numerous cousins.

A graveside service will be held Saturday, January 11, 2020 at 11:00am (CST) at the Pearl Webb Cemetery in Camner, KY.

In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing money to the Masonic Care Fund at Masonic Homes, Louisville, Kentucky.

2:00 PM to 8:00 PM CT, Sunday, January 19, 2020 and from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM CT, Monday, January 20, 2020 at Brooks Funeral Home. Funeral service will be 11:00 AM CT, Monday, January 20, 2020 at Brooks Funeral Home with Bro. Nicky Ferguson officiating.

Interment will be at Pearl Webb Cemetery, Canmer, KY.

Condolences may also be expressed online at