Ruth and Glenn Sappie

If you don’t know Glenn and Ruth Sappie of Raleigh, you might be new to NCPCA, because not only are they founding members of our organization, but they are also hosts of our terrific annual Holiday Potluck, held at their lovely home in the historic Oakwood neighborhood. Now might be a good time to mark your calendars for this year’s potluck: Saturday, Dec 10 at 6pm. Click here for more details.

Ruth and Glenn both grew up near Pittsburgh, but met after college, married and quickly applied to Peace Corps, serving together in Paraguay, 1978-81. Glenn’s degree in Business Administration from Penn State, and Ruth’s in Education from Michigan State certainly must have made them attractive candidates (certainly more than my degree in Medieval History!)

In Paraguay they worked together on agricultural extension projects, including planting, building brick cook stoves, selling seeds and chickens, and farm record-keeping.

Paraguay garden project

Paraguay garden project

They were the only volunteers in their town, which was a little town close to capital. The local people speak both Spanish, and Guaraní, the indigenous language of Paraguay. Indigenous culture is hanging on by a thread, but still spoken. A favorite local expression is:

I can speak Guaraní, but I prefer to speak the language of the señor (Spanish).

While they were volunteers Glenn played guitar, including Paraguayan guitar, and Ruth mentioned that they owned a horse for a while, and she enjoyed riding.

Sappie2 copy

They returned to the US in 1981, and they both went to University of Florida, (Gainesville) both getting a Master’s in Agricultural Economics. Glenn says this was a good transition after Peace Corps service, and he got much more out of graduate studies because it was applied. He was ready to tackle things in the field, and work with the farmers, as well as the researchers. In his last semester, 3 yrs after COS, he got the chance to do a month-long training in Paraguay and so was able to go back.

They thought they would stay in Florida, but after a visit to Pittsburgh, they stopped at NCSU on the way back to Florida, and spent a day there. Ruth found a professor who was working with cotton farmers on a boll weevil eradication project, and 3 weeks later started work. One thing lead to another, and soon she got a job with the General Assembly as a fiscal analyst, then worked with the Department of Transportation as a legislative liaison, and then in the DOT budget office. She retired after 21 years of service to the state, and is now enrolled in a Master’s program in Spanish and Languages at NCSU. She’s also qualified to teach English as a Second Language and does some tutoring from time to time.

Glenn now has 31 years of state service, and currently works in the Division of Air Quality in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, working on planning and rural development for the state. He had a stroke last Feb., and had to figure out lots of things all over again, & lost some vision. The recovery is ongoing and he wants it known that he’s making it! He’s BACK!

Both Glenn and Ruth were among the NCPCA founders, back in 1987, and Glenn was founding president. Our little organization was created with 10 others, and both Sappies are proud of their long involvement and the organization’s nearly 30-year history.  (WOW!) Glenn has been active with steering committee for most of the time, and is now coordinator of the Raleigh Happy Hour.

Here are a few fun fact about the Sappies: Ruth is in a local majorette corps– yes, twirling batons!

Glenn has long been active with the Sons of the American Revolution, and is in the Color Guard. Watch for them at Benson Mule Day, or another parade near you.

And certainly, don’t ever miss the Holiday Potluck at their home!