W. Keith Ruble has been connected to trees nearly his entire life, working as the former superintendent of the Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department.
On Friday, four dogwood trees were dedicated to Ruble for his efforts as a steward of the environment and his work in constructing a log cabin chapel near the site of a similar cabin once used by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, on the grounds of the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Rita Burns Senseman, chairwoman of the Catholic Social Ministry Committee at St. Joseph’s University Parish, said the trees were planted in recognition of Ruble, who is an example of a role model to the community “as one who is a discipline who promotes stewardship for God’s creation.”
Burns said Ruble “is an example for all of us and hopefully inspires others to care for God’s good earth,” she said.
Senseman said Ruble himself hewed a black walnut post to which is attached a cedar wood block with a metal plate honoring Ruble. The plaque states,
“Honoring Keith Ruble
Guardian of the Land
Steward of the Environment
Builder of this Cabin
A tree is planted by his parish
St. Joseph University Parish
Terre Haute, Indiana.”
Sister Denise Wilkinson of the Sisters-of-Providence, along with Max Miller and Earl Rodgers, thanked Ruble for the cabin and his work for the Sisters-of-Providence.
Friar John Bamman, associate pastor at St. Joseph University Parish, said “there is a divine reality behind all of nature. We can see a wonderful sunset that captures the attention of ourselves, but we don’t worship the sun. We worship the God who created that sunset,” along with all of nature, including trees, he said.
“Keith Ruble is often heard quoted, saying, ‘every person is in need of a nature vitamin.’ I like that idea that a vitamin will supplement and will help us in our health to make us more hearty, more bold, more willing to serve God in whatever our vocation is,” Bamman said, adding just walking through a park or a natural area can refresh a person.
Bamman said dogwood trees are appropriate for the site as the trees have cruciform blossoms, making an image of a cross, the symbol of resurrection.
Ruble said trees are usually planted for people who are deceased, “so I am glad that I am still alive,” he joked to a small group attending the ceremony.
Ruble said trees can be a shelter to someone and dogwood trees are a reminder “that the brightest blossoms are not always on the tallest trees. Big trees are just little trees that keep growing. Keep a green tree in your heart, and a singing bird will come,” he said, reading from a small book he carried about trees.
After the ceremony, Ruble, with a tear in his eye, said he appreciates the recognition.
“I worked in the [Vigo County] park [department] for 40 years, but I have also been a forester for 30 some years,” he said. “I have worked with trees for years and planted thousands and thousands of trees. Trees have always been special to me.
“Trees just give so many things. They attract wildlife and attract people and hold water back ... you can go on and on” about their benefits, he said.
On the cabin, Ruble said he had one shingle left and one stone left at the end of construction. “It was almost like [Mother Theodore Guerin] was here,” he said. “It came out almost perfect.”
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard. firstname.lastname@example.org.