Golden Oldie

Ruth Justice keeps active by dancing, singing, playing piano

At 81 years old, Ruth Justice isn't letting up. Justice, a great-grandmother, is learning to tap dance, and she says she doesn't have any plans on quitting soon.

"It was just something I always wanted to do," she said. "And I decided I'd better get it done since I'm getting older."

Justice takes tap at the Ann Harmeson School of Dance in Anderson. Harmeson, owner of the studio and Justice's instructor, says Justice's personality adds a lot to the class.

"She's a very vivacious person and very positive," Harmeson said.+â-è "In the class she has a positive attitude. It's a fun class, and she's an inspiration for the rest of them."

When Justice began taking classes two years ago, she was excited, but also a little nervous. She wasn't sure what she was getting herself into.

"It [the first lesson] was bewildering because I never had tap lessons before, and I didn't know how it would go," she said.

But Justice has had a little support. Three others in her class have been there since her first day, and Harmeson says people in the same class build strong friendships.

"They become good friends when you've been dancing so long together," Harmeson said. "They are in their second year together. If one gets sick, they take a casserole over. And things like that."

As for her friends outside the studio, Justice says they don't understand why she is taking tap lessons at her age, but she laughs them off.

"They just go along with what I might do because they never know what I'm going to do," she said. "I do what I want to do."

But tap lessons aren't just for filling a childhood dream for Justice. Justice says she physically feels better since she's been dancing. She says aches dissipate and she has more energy.

"You can feel bad and hurt, but when you go to tap, you feel great," she said. "I won't say it's easy. We dance for an hour straight, but you just feel better."

Her free spirit doesn't stop at starting dance lessons at the age of 79. In 1986 Justice saw an ad in the Anderson paper for a clown troupe, and soon she became a chartered member of Smiles Unlimited as Bo Jingles. She traveled the area performing at parties, banquets and parades, sometimes three times in a day.

And five years ago she decided to return to piano lessons. Justice took lessons as a child, but she thought it would be fun to get back to it. She says dancing and piano lessons are her favorite activities.

For the past 25 years, Justice has also been singing in the St. Mary's choir. Four years ago when the church organized a bell choir, Justice signed up for that too. St. Mary's is putting on an AIDS Day next weekend, and both the bell and song choirs will be performing, so Justice says she's been busy pulling that together.

The free spirit of Ruth Justice has pushed her to try many things in life, but she says she doesn't know where they all come from.

"I don't find all these things," she said. "They kind of find me."


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