Ruthie Ewers - Harlingen icon
HARLINGEN — For 20 years, Ruthie Ewers has played a key role from City Hall to charities.
A quintessential mover and shaker, Ewers served on more than 20 boards, ran political campaigns and raised more than $10 million for her favorite causes.
Now, she owns the key to the city she has cherished as her second home.
This past week, Mayor Chris Boswell presented Ewers with the Key to the City at a Boy Scout luncheon where she helped raise $40,000 to help low-income families who want their sons to become Boy Scouts.
“I’m so excited,” she said.
“It’s such an honor. Very few of these keys have ever been issued.”
Boswell said he decided to honor Ewers with the recognition after Ewers announced she was moving back to Dallas.
“I wanted to give her a key to the city and let her know she’s welcome back anytime,” Boswell said.
Boswell called Ewers, who built one of the state’s biggest direct mail marketing businesses, a “role model.”
“I refer to her as Harlingen’s Energizer Bunny because she keeps going and doing more and more for so many good causes,” Boswell said. “She’s been a dear friend. She’s been on so many boards. She gives of herself.”
Ewers said health problems are the reason she and her husband Norbert will return to Dallas to be closer to their family.
“I want to see my great-grandchildren in their plays and ball games,” she said. “I’ve been missing it down here.”
Born in 1940 in Watonga, Okla., she married Norbert, her high school sweetheart, before leaving school in her junior year.
After taking a job with a direct-mail marketing firm, she was soon managing the company.
By 1974, Ewers and her husband had teamed up with a partner to launch LEE Marketing, a direct mail marketing company which she helped build into a $25 million-a-year business employing 300 workers.
Move to Valley
After she sold the business in 1997 to billionaire Warren Buffet, she and her husband moved to the Rio Grande Valley, where his brother was staying at Fun N Sun RV Resort.
So she and her husband bought a home in Palm Valley.
“I fell in love with the Valley,” she said. “I fell in love with the people.”
Soon, she was serving on the Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce.
“From then on, people asked me to serve on boards,” she said.
The chamber’s former chairwoman, she has served on about 21 boards.
“I want to do things that make a difference,” she said. “I’ve never served on a board that I didn’t work hard on and didn’t financially support.”
Through the years, she has raised more than $10 million for causes across the community.
“It’s been a labor of love,” she said. “We’ve got the most generous people.”
As she worked for the community, she made more and more close friends.
“The networking — I’m going to miss that more than anything,” Ewers said. “It takes a long time to make contacts and I have so many wonderful contacts.”
For Ewers, her Key to the City is going to come in handy.
“I’m going to keep my cell phone and email address,” she said.
By air or roadway, she is already planning to return to her second home.
“I love to drive,” she said. “I know how to get here in seven-and-a-half hours.”