Red Cross Honors Centenarian’s Life of Service

Story and photos by Basima El Hasan, American Red Cross communications volunteer

The American Red Cross recognized an Orange County resident marking her 100th birthday,  June 23rd at the Freedom Village Retirement Home.

Ruth “Riki” Belew of Lake Forest, is a former Red Cross volunteer who served in Africa and Italy during World War II.

Belew’s 100 year celebration coincides with the centennial of the American Red Cross Desert to Sea Region, which includes Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties.

“We’re proud to honor Riki for her dedication to the Red Cross and applaud her spirit, enthusiasm and commitment,” said Linda E. Voss, CEO, American Red Cross Desert to Sea Region. “Ms. Belew and other volunteers played an essential role in helping the Red Cross offer compassionate care to the armed forces during World War II. Today, volunteers continue to allow the Red Cross to accomplish our lifesaving mission.”

Birthday Celebration
Ruth “Riki” Belew (center) poses with Red Cross gift planning officer Lynn Dickinson (left) and Red Cross Regional CEO Linda E. Voss during Belew’s 100th birthday celebration


Belew’s Impact on the Community

The journey that led Belew to the Red Cross began when her brothers inspired her through their service in the U.S. armed forces. From crossing the Mediterranean in the nose of a B-17 bomber during a “terrific” storm, to serving U.S. troops stationed in Africa and Italy, Belew lived her own story to tell from World War II.

Some of Ms. Belew’s more memorable experiences with Red Cross involve entertaining the King and Queen of Greece, breaking bread with the Bedouin in their Moroccan tents, and dancing with the troops in Italy. “I remain grateful that I had the opportunity to serve with the Red Cross,” said Belew.

Ms. Belew’s contributions to humanity did not end with her work in Red Cross. She earned national recognition for educating children in downtown Detroit for nearly forty years.


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