Ruth Romero has an Enthusiasm and Youthfulness that is Contagious
by Pamela Kleibrink Thompson, photos by Lance Thompson
At age 47,Ruth Romero almost didn’t go to the interview that would change her life.
Now 82, Ruth embodies an enthusiasm for life that could be the secret to eternal youth. Her optimistic attitude has served her well and is an inspiration to others all over the world, including former Miss Universe New Zealander Lorraine Downes, who met Ruth in St. Louis, Missouri in 1983, while competing in the Miss Universe Pageant. Ruth was working for the Miss Universe Corporation as a chaperone to Miss USA and Miss Universe. Ruth and Lorraine have remained close friends since that year. “She has mentored me through different phases of my life,” says Lorraine. “I consider her one of the most influential women in my life.”
Ruth has impacted many other women, including Miss USA 1982, Terri Amos, who wrote, “Ruth was an inspiration to me then and continues to be to this day. She epitomizes wisdom, courage, and a passion for life that only a few ever attain.”
“Life is a journey,” reminds Ruth. “You have to be open to all the possibilities, even when you are experiencing situations that are painful.” A broad smile and twinkling eyes are part of Ruth’s style. You wouldn’t suspect she has faced challenges. After being a homemaker for 18 years, in 1974 Ruth suddenly found herself divorced with 2 children. It was a shock, something she hadn’t expected.
Ruth grew up in a traditional Mexican home in Southern California. “In those days, women were expected to behave in certain ways.” She remembers traveling in Spain shortly after Franco died. When she discovered that being divorced was perceived as unacceptable to many of the people she met, she revised her story and told people she was a widow instead.
After traveling to New York for two weeks in 1978 as a representative for Srednick, a Chinese importing company, she fell in love with the city’s energy. “Deep down inside, I knew that one day I would return to live there.” Only 4 months later,the East Coast competitor offered a wonderful contract to Ruth to join his company and she accepted. The job only lasted 2 years, but Ruth soon found a job managing a women’s upscale fashion boutique. She loved the job and it was there that she crossed paths with Rose Lanard, a young college student whom she had hired as a part-time salesperson. Rose would change Ruth’s life. She told Ruth that an Executive Search firm was looking for a Traveling Companion for Miss Universe, Inc. and one of the requirements was being bilingual, because the companion would act as interpreter. “I knew nothing about pageants, but had watched one here and there, never with great curiosity. Rose urged me to go with the assurance that I was ‘perfect for the job.’” Ruth finally decided to apply months later.
“The day came when I reluctantly decided to connect with the executive search firm. However,about a half hour before my appointment, I decided to call and cancel the appointment. I looked at the clock, fifteen minutes to go, when I heard a strong voice say, ‘When did you give up being curious? Go and find out what it is all about.’ I walked across the street and entered the office on 5th Avenue. Upon arriving, I heard the comments, ‘She has arrived, She is it.’ I felt frightened, what did they mean? I knew little about pageants and nothing about the job. That same afternoon I found myself sitting across from the stuffy and arrogant pageant president,Harold Glasser,who hired me that same day.”
The job title was Traveling Companion, but Ruth changed it to Traveling Manager because she managed the pageant contestants. Ruth communicated the responsibilities and duties clearly to each titleholder and ensured that she performed her professional duties whether at home or on the road. “For one year she was to be conscious of her title, making sure that she conducted herself in a professional manner. I was offered a corporate apartment to share with both Miss USA and Miss Universe. We had to be in no later than midnight, and there were no overnight guests. According to Miss Universe, Inc. rules, we were to protect the title and the company at all times. They were public figures and their conduct was to remain impeccable.”
It was Ruth’s job to remind titleholders of their responsibilities. “One big one was the ‘forgotten’ sash and/or crown. The crown in particular was quite burdensome and painful to wear. I understood but had to insist they follow company policy. Appropriate professional dress for each appearance was a must.”
Ruth also planned the titleholder’s wardrobe for the year,which consisted of business and evening attire. “I was given a budget for each one.” She also prepared titletholders with input and guidance for media interviews, such as newspaper and television. “If we traveled to any of the Spanish-speaking countries, I served as interpreter and on occasion faced the television camera myself. Understanding the different countries and cultures was crucial and important for the ladies to know.”
“Most important for me, though it was not on my job description, was to make each girl feel at home and to express love and understanding. The foreign girls in particular had difficult times. I felt the need to embrace them as a mom or friend would, remaining mindful that I worked for Miss Universe, Inc.”
Ruth moved to Eagle in 2006 to be near two of her four grandchildren and became involved with the Eagle Arts Commission and Dress for Success, a charity that assists low- income women with career development and employment. She has received numerous awards, including Business Woman of the Year 2011 by the National Association of Women Business Owners—Boise (NAWBO); Recognition of commitment to Women Veterans from The Idaho Veterans Conference – 2011; and the Idaho Business Review Women of the Year 2008 Award.
In her book, Be the Rage at Any Age, she writes, “So much of our success in life depends on being able to present ourselves as confident and competent when it matters most…making the right style choices is an art.” Ruth definitely knows the art of living at her best and enjoying life.
As a Personal Stylist/Professional Image Coach, Ruth is committed to guiding her clients through a personal journey of self discovery. “Finding your own style is about learning to embrace your strengths and paying attention to the details that make you You.” She encourages her clients to discover who they truly are and clients often find the inner transformation even more incredible than their outward look. Anne, one of her clients from Idaho Falls, wrote, “The process really stretched me out of my comfort zone. I had no idea what to expect, but having done it, I wish that every woman (and man) could have this experience.” Ruth helps clients make a powerful first impression. “Good manners and common courtesies contribute enormously to a positive first impression. Social graces are not innate; they are learned.”
Ruth recently made her big screen debut in a film called Higher Education. “I had one line, but it was fun and it’s a funny script.” The filmmaker, Ben Hausdorff, hopes to have a screening at the Egyptian when it is finished and plans to submit it to film festivals. Ruth is also a scenario role player at POST—Peace Officer Standards and Training—where she acts out roles ranging from an incarcerated inmate to an outraged citizen.
But her real role in life is one of encouragement and being a role model. “I live life to make a difference with whomever I encounter.” Her zest for life and youthful spirit inspire all. Ruth’s true secret to youth is to embrace new experiences, try new things, and stay positive and upbeat.