On Ruby Stone: ‘Her bark would never allow a guy to call her a RINO’

Last week’s story about the death of former Idaho Republican Rep. Ruby Stone has prompted a flurry of calls and emails from folks who knew and admired the former House Local Government Committee chairwoman.

Former Rep. Sher Sellman, a Republican from Mountain Home who who served two terms, was moved enough to write a remembrance of her friend.

When I phoned her back, Sellman explained a detail not included in her essay, how Stone got mileage out of her nickname, “Stuby Rone.” The story goes that back home in the South — Stone was born in Georgia and still sounded like it   — she knew a man who sometimes transposed letters as she spoke.

Services for Stone begin today from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  at Summers Funeral Home, Ustick Chapel, Meridian. A celebration of her life will be held on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 1 pm at Summers Funeral Home, Ustick Chapel, Meridian. Concluding services will be held at Dry Creek Cemetery immediately following the celebration of life, followed by a reception at St.Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 2206 N. Cole Rd., Boise.

Here’s Sellman’s reflection:

The Gem State lost a precious ruby last week.  Ruby Stone,  known as Stuby Rone on legislative outings, was one of Idaho’s finest characters. I know because I served with her in the House of Representatives; sat in front of her on the Floor, roomed with her when the legislature traveled out of Boise, and occasionally golfed with her.

Ruby was that very woman who the House members in the film Lincoln shuddered and hissed over when the topic of enfranchisement for the Blacks came up, “Why this 13th Amendment could later lead to even giving women the vote.”  Rep. Stone had strong emotions for her causes and didn’t hold back her zeal.  Although a diminutive lady, many men were frightened by her strong feelings.  Yet, they respected her honest soul. Many a time I heard a male colleague respond to Ruby’s arguments in the lunch room, “Now Ruby, tell us how you really feel,” and she would respond with laughter.

She played no games; she treated everyone with respect; she apologized when she was wrong and apologies are an anomaly in politics.  She supported women’s issues that were not always on her Republican Party’s platform, yet her bark would never allow a guy to call her a RINO.  She was one of her party’s hardest workers who was always available to anyone.  She never cloistered herself in ideologies or legalese.

Idaho will miss our precious Ruby.  On the bus to heaven, I’m sure she’s being called upon to entertain the riders with jokes, just like she did on our legislative outings.  She’ll start with the story of why she calls herself Stuby Rone and then move into a “joie de vivre” litany of characters and situations that will make even the most burdened legislator realize that life is good.


Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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