Ruby Carroll – A Remembrance

Ruby Carroll
Photos Courtesy of California Historical Society, MSP 3800

A good person. “Big-boned,” not said to disguise being overweight, just truly large in stature, over six feet tall! An imposing woman. She always had a smile for me – welcoming, open, and friendly.  She almost always wore a bright turban of some sort, as did her mother Ruby Johnson.   Behind her quiet exterior were remarkable insights and understanding, as well as seemingly boundless energy.

Ruby Carroll lived in San Francisco and was always busy in many Temple activities. I knew her through her son, John Gardener, one of the three children my wife and I had by guardianship. She entrusted him to live with us in Ukiah from spring 1970 through spring 1976, when he moved back to San Francisco with the rest of the children from the Valley.  John came to the relative quiet of rural Ukiah to escape the urban problems at home. He would see his mother on weekends when we traveled to San Francisco or when folks came up to Ukiah.  It was like an extended family.

Many people knew Ruby Carroll because she was one of several who were chosen to “paddle” in disciple – chosen, I think, not because she was mean, but because she was a very caring person, and (of course) imposing in size.  She was one of the few ever trusted by Jim to give him whacks as well, when he called for it.

Ruby Carroll was a very hard worker. She was one who could resolve situations rather than add to them, so she worked on council. She organized many money-making projects.  In Jonestown, she was in charge of housing.  She ran the sewing shop – dolls, shirts, etc. – out of one cottage, with a crew of 10 to 20 people making items for us, as well filling orders to sell in Guyana.

She was a good teacher as well, for when I didn’t know or understand something, she would patiently explain things. I always felt guilty for raising her son, as I felt she knew much more about what mattered in life than I did! And it was all stated in that smile she had, quiet and peaceful and knowing of herself.

(Don Beck was a member of Peoples Temple for ten years. He directed the Peoples Temple children’s choir during its Redwood Valley years and made several trips to Guyana during its pioneer days. Beginning about 20 years after the tragedy, shortly after this site went online, he became one of its most dedicated researchers, transcribing Edith Roller journals, reviewing and analyzing Jonestown records released through the Freedom of Information Act, and compiling them for the first section of documents on the Jonestown Research page. He also contributed numerous articles and remembrances. Most of those writings may be found here.)

(Don died on July 9, 2021, following a lengthy illness. He was 78.)