During the last year of her life, Ruth Jarmak lived on Pembroke Street with her son, Arnie. At 93, it was time for her to join her son and together, they enjoyed one of the great years of their lives.
Arnie moved to Chelsea in 1977. He worked for the Chelsea Record until 1991. His photographs dominated the newspaper for many years and this year and last year, we have published numerous Jarmak photographs as they now constitute a powerful link to the city’s recent modern history.
His mother Ruth was always a fiercely independent woman. But as age began to catch up with her, she gravitated to her son and inevitably, to Chelsea, where she has been a constant visitor over the decades with an apartment here.
About two weeks ago she fell. She came out of that but then she fell again and started to weaken. Last week her condition worsened. She died peacefully at the Whidden Hospital September 7.
She was 93.
For the past year and half Mrs. Jarmak enjoyed bingo at the Chelsea Senior Center every week. She enjoyed her waterfront apartment. She enjoyed her life.
And it was a long life she lived.
Ruth Shanahan Jarmak was born January 24, 1918 in Worcester.
She grew-up in Beachmont, the daughter of Patrick Shanahan and Esther Miller, however her roots in this country started with the Mayflower – as amazing as it might sound for a woman who was brought up Jewish with an Irish father.
Her father, Patrick Shanahn was descended from a family that included the Wentworths and the Hopkins who landed on the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620. These are people who fought in the Revolutionary War and in the Civil War. A great, great nephew, Edward Winslow Hincks, served as Abraham Lincoln’s adjutant during the Civil War and was named a General in the Union Army by Lincoln.
Her great grandfather, Daniel Patrick Shanahan came from Ireland during the great Irish famine of the 1840’s and died in North Carolina while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Her father Patrick, inherited a teamster company – horses and wagons hired for delivery on Cambridge Street in Boston – this was at the turn of the 20th Century. He went away and served during World War 1 in Europe where he was wounded. The business was left to a brother who had difficulty running it.
The business came to an end before the Depression.
By this time, the Shanahans were living in Beachmont, living modestly, and Patrick took a position with the MDC on Revere Beach for 25 years.
Ruth Shanahan grew up in modest circumstances. “We were all poor but no one knew the difference because everyone in the neighborhood was poor,” she recalled to her son Arnie many years ago.
She attended Revere public schools and graduated from Revere High School in 1936.
She went to secretarial school in Boston and studied business and became a bookkeeper and stenographer.
While working at a firm called John Irving Company on Causeway Street in Boston, she met Jerry Jarmak. He was a Army Air Force Captain serving in England and France. A romance ensued. The couple was married during the Second World War when Mr. Jarmak was home on leave. A daughter, Sharon, was born while Mr. Jarmak was overseas.
After the war, the couple settled in Marblehead.
Another child was born. They raised a family and built a business – the Jarmak Corporation, a sales and construction firm specializing in school equipment.
Mrs. Jarmak worked side by side with her husband in their Salem headquarters.
At the same time, she was a mother to her children and a faithful daughter to her parents and siblings.
In Marblehead, she pursued many different things in her life.
She loved oil painting. She took lessons and courses and leaves behind a number of painting that she finished during that era.
As a younger woman, she was an athlete and remained fit during much of her long life.
She played tennis into her 80’s. She made constant efforts to remain in good physical shape and enjoyed swimming on Lake Winnepausaukee where she maintained a home for the past 40 years.
She also helped to raise her grandchildren and her great grandchildren.
She also maintained a home in West Palm Beach Florida for the past 25 years and spent her time there during the winter.
Above all, Mrs. Jarmak was a lady at all times throughout her life.
As a mother, she doted over her children and remained loyal to them everyday of her life.
She loved life. She loved her life and those who met her always came away with the feeling that she was a great lady, charming, very much alive, generous and interested in life and willing to do for others and especially for her own brothers and sisters and even her parents who she supported and cared for until their deaths many years ago.
She had a solid sense of humor and often poked fun at others. She had a winning smile.
She was an attractive woman with strong features. Physically, she was always fit throughout her lifetime.
At her request, Mrs. Jarmak was cremated
A memorial service was held for her by her husband’s burial place in Union Cemetery in Laconia, New Hampshire on Wednesday morning.
She leaves her son Arnie of Chelsea and her daughter Sharyn of Austin, Texas, two grandchildren, Lisa Davy of New Hampshire and Jeffrey Jarmak of Ohio.
She was the sister of Daniel Shane of Salem, Gloria Liechtenstein of East Providence, RI, Myron Shanahan of Laconia and Marion Argenbright of East Providence.