Mamie Tatum Sumners


Mrs. Mamie “Ruth” Tatum Sumners was born Jan. 2, 1926, in Giles County, Tenn. She passed away peacefully in the arms of her loved ones on Feb. 27, 2020, at the age of 94. A longtime resident of Eastville, Ruth came to the Eastern Shore with her late husband, David O. Sumners Sr., and their two sons in 1954.

She is survived by her sister, Betty Lou Vasiliadis, of Gainesville, Fla.; her two sons, David O. Sumners Jr. and his wife, Patricia, of Eastville, and Bob Sumners and his wife, Ann, of Kitty Hawk, N.C.; and numerous other family members and dear friends. Her grandchildren, Scott Sumners and family, of Kill Devil Hills, N.C., Dr. Cara Sumners and family, of Manteo, N.C., Benjamin Sumners and family, of Morehead City, N.C., Tatum Ford and family, of Belle Haven, Jessica Gladding and her family, of Chincoteague, and Abel Bell, of Quinby, filled her life with richness and brought her 11 great-grandchildren, whom she greatly cherished. She was preceded in death by her parents, Leslie and Ruby Tatum; her brother, Eugene Tatum; sister, Geneva T. Fox; and her husband of 52 years, David.

Ruth first met David after he returned from the war in 1945. Prior to his return, she had seen his picture at her cousin’s house and said, “You must introduce me to that man.” Upon his return, they were introduced, instantly fell in love, were married in 1946, and the rest was history.

They moved to the Eastern Shore and eventually settled in Eastville, where they built a small plumbing and electrical business and spent the remainder of their days.

Those who knew her appreciated her immense wisdom of old-world skills such as canning and preserving, growing at least a part of what she ate in her own backyard, sewing, and never letting anything go to waste; a philosophy she passed down to those closest to her. Sophisticated yet simple and truly multi-dimensional, Ruth would have her hair set, with a beautiful evening dress on, and pause on her way out the door to swat the squirrels away from the bird feeder with a broom. She was just that kind of lady; one who interacted with textbook etiquette but who was always a farm girl at heart. She adored working in her garden alongside her husband, David, and never shied away from a hard-day’s work. She would delight in hosting regular dinners and no one ever left her house hungry. Ruth was a long-time member of many social clubs such as The Eastern Star, The Eastern Shore homemakers club, and the sewing club. She spent years working as the Northampton County magistrate and also kept the books for the family business, D.O. Sumners and Son Plumbing and Electric. She enjoyed playing dominoes, picking fresh-caught Chesapeake Bay crab meat, cultivating and arranging flowers, baking, and almost never missed a Yankees game; but she most enjoyed spending time with her many friends and family members. Her doors were always open and you knew you were never more than a knock away from an ice-cold glass of sweet tea and a wonderfully warm conversation with Ruth.

Her friends enriched her life greatly and her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews, local and afar, cherished their time with her. As long as she was able, she never missed a Sunday gracing a pew at Eastville Baptist Church, which is just down the street from her Willow Oak Road residence. As trustee emeritus, she was especially delighted in seeing the children active in the church and considered many of its members to be as close as family.

A headstrong woman, she never let a challenge go unmet, and even when her body started to eventually recognize that it had been serving her for nearly a century, she still pushed on in true Ruth fashion; joyfully making memories with those around her, right up until she was called to be with The Lord.

A graveside service will be held Saturday, July 3, 2021, at 11 a.m., at Cape Charles Cemetery with Jay Wilson officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ruth’s memory to the Eastville Baptist Church Youth Fund, P.O. Box 283, Eastville, VA 23347.

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