When I was in San Francisco back in 2007, I had a chance encounter with her. I blogged this:
I was traipsing about San Francisco yesterday, and, snapping dozens of pictures, I made my way over to Fillmore Street for a little window shopping. I saw this...I'm sad to read that she's died, and I'm sorry I didn't buy that hat. She was so sociable and nice to me that day. She seemed like she was ready to launch into a conversation with me just because I was the one person who happened to be around just then.
.. and was struggling against the glare and reflections to frame my shot — and also, idiotically, talking on my iPhone — when a woman — who I now understand to be Ruth Garland-Dewson — swept out of the store and flung herself between me and the picture of Barack Obama.
"Are you trying to take a picture of my man?" she said dramatically.
But she wasn't what I for a second thought she was: one of those shopkeepers who are touchy about having their place photographed. She wanted to come out and talk — about Barack Obama and other things as well. I got off my phone conversation and complimented her on the great shop and asked if she had extra large hats. I love women's hats, but since I need a men's extra-large size, I can never find a woman's hat — aside from something stretchy — that fits. She found me what might have been her largest hat, and it almost fit. You know, I should have bought it! It was ocher-colored with a dark purple spiral — a felt hat with a large brim. I think I would have bought it if she'd tried to talk me into it (as so many sales people have nudged me beyond my initial resistance — it's not very hard).
But she wanted to talk about Barack Obama. Do I like him? Yes! I think he's a good man, and that he would be able to do a lot of good. I added, "But I kind of like Giuliani." That was okay with her, it seemed — so long as I don't like Hillary.
Can you see the printed text in my photograph, above? That's her line, "I would say, 'Go, Obama, you're black enough for me,'" which ended a letter that she had printed in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 1, 2007, reacting to what was then a hot dispute: whether Obama was "black enough."