Skip to main content
  • Ruth Ann Webster Kincer

January 01, 2024

By Judson Tabor

Tradition is of the utmost importance involving universities today. It is the past experiences of former students and alumni that orchestrate continued interest in a school's future. In 1845, when Dr. L. Pinkerton chose the town of Midway to create a school dedicated to educating female orphans, he chose it not only for its natural beauty, but also for the community of loving and generous people living there. He knew that their values would pass onto the many women enrolled in the school; he knew that the school would create intelligent women, but the community would sow traditional love.


The Kentucky Female Orphan School, opened in 1849, instilled miraculous education in its students and also taught them how to live their lives to the best possible degree through love and respect for traditional values. Ruth Ann Webster Kincer's experience at the Kentucky Female Orphan School, now Midway University, was nothing short of astonishing. It was her daughter, Kim, who was able to provide a powerfully vivid and amazing picture into her mother, Ruth Ann Kincer, a former attendee of the Kentucky Female Orphan School. It was through Ruth Ann’s journal, as well as her daughter’s powerful descriptions of her, that allowed a window into the amazing and astounding woman that Ruth Ann truly was.


ruth ann webster kincerRuth Ann’s experience at the Kentucky Female Orphan School (KFOS) was filled with outright compassion. She attended the school from her seventh grade year, 1947, through two years of junior college and finally graduating in 1955. She officially graduated from Midway's Pinkerton High School in 1953 and the Midway Junior College in 1955.


As stated, her tenure was one filled with compassion and love, and because Ruth Ann arrived at Midway from a broken home, her KFOS experience only heightened her value of warm relationships. Her daughter Kim, wrote of her mother's experience: "President Lewis and Anna Piper at Midway took mom under their wings. She would go to their home on Sunday afternoons for dinner. She often talked about how spending time with the Pipers and their son George modeled how a family should be. Before mom's dad left, the family dynamic was never what most families experience. The children were not permitted to speak at the dinner table unless spoken to."


The loving atmosphere produced by the President, Mr. Lewis Piper and his family, as well as her classmates, instilled a dedication to nurture personal relationships and the smaller aspects of life that many individuals in this day and age often take for granted. In her journal, Ruth Ann also wrote of the Piper family, "I am grateful for the Piper family and how they welcomed me into their home." The Piper family took Ruth Ann to church on Sundays and allowed her to have Sunday dinner with the family. Mr. Piper, his wife, as well as Ruth Ann's fellow classmates often spent Thanksgivings on campus with classmates and faculty. Ruth Ann wrote of the lessons she learned during her years at Midway, writing: "I am grateful for the lessons I learned at Midway that taught me etiquette in social situations and the value of friendships." Ruth Ann, above all else, valued relationships and the human connection. She understood that relationships were the key to a fulfilling life. It was through her time in Midway that provided her with warmth, love and life lessons such as her valuing of interpersonal relationships.


Ruth Ann Kincer experienced numerous opportunities that would not have been possible, if not for the graces of the Kentucky Female Orphan School. She participated in the school's a cappella choir, which allowed her to travel outside the state of Kentucky for the first time in her life and visit Washington D.C. in order to sing on the steps of the capitol building. She also played basketball, cello, and clarinet. As stated, these opportunities allowed Ruth Ann to create deep friendships, the majority of whom she kept in close contact for many years after graduating. One such dear friend and roommate, Trustee Emerita Julianne Perry, kept close contact with Ruth Ann for years after, and continues to maintain close contact with Ruth Ann's daughter Kim. Midway generated opportunities that taught her to suck the marrow from life, to be a loving human, to encourage others in their pursuits, to be true to oneself, and, above all else to live purposely through the love generated from interpersonal relationships. These traditional aspects of life were woven into Ruth Ann's very heart and soul for the rest of her life.


In the latter part of Ruth Ann's life, she maintained the many values procured from her experience from KFOS. After attending KFOS, she and Julianne Perry lived together and worked at a Stewart's department store until Ruth Ann married Ronald Kincer in 1958. The two went on to have twin boys in 1958; Kim was born in 1961, and another daughter in 1964. Later on in life, Ruth Ann attended every Midway Homecoming possible as a result of her closeness with faculty and classmates. She would become an inspiring mentor to many of the younger girls, as well. Moreover, she would often return to Midway to spend time with the Piper family, specifically Mrs. Piper.


When speaking of all the great things Ruth Ann learned at the Kentucky Female Orphan School, it can all be summarized as tradition. Tradition is the representation of great morals, close relationships, and living meaningfully. Ruth Ann came to Midway to gain a proper education, and she left not only with a spectacular education, but with traditional life lessons on how to love others and live life with the most passionate intensity.

ruth ann and family