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Ruth Sesser
0724 Obit R Sesser

Ruth Corinne (Newey) (Raymond) Sesser, 95, died Monday, July 15 in Sacramento.

She was born in Needham, Mass. to Minnie and Arthur Newey. She grew up in Newton Upper Falls.

She married the Reverend Fern Eldridge Raymond, and served in church life with her husband in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Blodgett Mills, N.Y.; Methodist Church California circuits of Point Arena-Gualala-Elk-Manchester and Forestville-Occidental-Windsor; and Methodist Episcopal churches in Santa Clara, Oakdale, and Ukiah. In Oakdale, her husband was the pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, then the stone church on the corner of Church and F Streets, from 1950 to 1956. She served as church secretary and “girl Friday.”

After her husband’s death in 1956, she served as Director of Religious Education and Education Assistant, respectively, at Santa Rosa’s First Methodist Church and Modesto’s Centenary Methodist Church; worked in religious education in Sebastopol; and served the Northern California-Nevada Conference of the Methodist Church as a District Director of Children’s Work.

After earning a BA in history at UCSC in 1968 and taking additional religion courses in three schools, she moved to Modesto, where she founded the Modesto Inter-Faith Ministries in 1975 – including a food bank, clothes closet, and education program for the poor. She attended the World Food Conference in Rome in 1974. In 1979, she founded the Modesto Center for Senior Employment; and co-founded with her second husband, Charles Sesser, the Stanislaus Habitat for Humanity in 1989. She worked with Habitat for Humanity Stanislaus from 1989 until 1995 serving as President of Habitat Stanislaus in 1990.

As a result of her active life in the community, she received a number of awards and recognitions, including recognition as one of “Ten Outstanding Women of Stanislaus County” in 1981, AAUW Education Foundation Scholarship Award in 1981, Honorary Mention in Pillsbury’s “Best Against Hunger” Award in 1989, the U.S. Conference of Mayors Award in 1989, and the 1996 Habitat for Humanity Stanislaus Founder’s Award.

Throughout her life, she was dedicated to enriching the lives of others, especially the poor, as a reflection of her deep faith in Jesus Christ.

In her last days, she was comforted by her three living children, one daughter-in-law, one grandchild, and one great-grandchild.

She is survived by her children, Carol, Loren, and Stephen Raymond; grandchildren, Matt Raymond, Maureen Moore, and Cindy Strong, and their families; four great-grandchildren; and one great-great grandchild.

She was preceded in death by her two former husbands, the Rev. Fern E. Raymond and Charles Sesser; children, Earl Raymond, Mark Raymond; and five brothers and sisters, including Paul Newey of Modesto.

Family and friends are invited to attend a celebration of life at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, at the Modesto Church of the Brethren on Woodland Avenue in Modesto.

In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made in her honor to Habitat for Humanity Stanislaus, 630 Kearney Ave., Modesto, CA 95350; or to the Modesto Church of the Brethren, 2301 Woodland Ave., Modesto, CA 95358; or to One Great Hour of Sharing of the United Methodist Church, c/o GCFA, P.O. Box 340029, Nashville, TN 37203.

The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader

July 24, 2013