Ruby Smith Dickerson

Published 5:48 pm Monday, June 10, 2024

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Oct. 5, 1936 – June 8, 2024

NATCHEZ – Ruby Smith Dickerson, aged 87, formerly of Natchez, passed away peacefully at her residence in Starkville, MS on June 8, 2024, in the company of family and friends.

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Ruby was born on Oct. 5, 1936, in Red Lick, MS to Jesse Harvey Smith and Ruth Eugenia (Starnes) Smith. She was devoted to her husband and family, and she was a generous, kind woman with a merry heart and a great sense of humor. She truly worked hard and played hard, and was a lifelong lover of fun and adventure. She often remarked in her last years, “I really enjoyed my life,” and it shows in the memories she created with those who knew and loved her.

Ruby had a happy childhood growing up in the small communities of Red Lick, Dennis Crossroads, and Union Church, MS. After graduating high school, she attended Mississippi State College for Women and Mississippi College, where she graduated. After college, she enjoyed a long, fulfilling career at Bellsouth as one of their first female building engineers, eventually retiring as a manager of building planning and engineering. In addition to her work in telecommunications, Ruby earned her private pilot’s certificate in 1963, and she delighted in her second career as a certified flight instructor. She loved teaching students how to fly, and she especially loved overturning the assumptions of the time that a little woman like her couldn’t possibly be the pilot! Aviation was her passion, and she inspired many people to earn their wings! She especially hoped to be an inspiration to girls, “that they could do it too if I could.” She loved telling her flying stories, but she also liked to say, with a twinkle in her eye, that there were stories she would never tell, “but I survived them!” She was proud of all her students, and she especially treasured her memories of instructing Nascar champion and friend Davey Allison for his single-engine rating. She mourned his tragic death in the helicopter crash for many years.

Ruby married her beloved husband John Dickerson on Oct. 19, 1958. Ruby and John were inseparable for all 65 years of their marriage. While they suffered the disappointment of never having children of their own, they loved all their nieces and nephews and enjoyed being part of their lives. Ruby and John shared a love of aviation, and John also earned his pilot’s license. But John was quick to tell everyone that Ruby was the “Pilot in Command!” Ruby and John lived in Birmingham, AL for many years and later retired home to Natchez, but they were world travelers. They piloted their beloved red and white Cessna 172, N19928, all over the United States, up to Canada and Alaska, and down to the Bahamas. They loved driving trips as well, and always had a sporty red car for her and a big matching red truck for him! They also took many cruises and trips with friends and family in their retirement years. When they were at home, they loved spending time with friends and family, attending Washington United Methodist Church, and supporting local clubs and organizations.

Ruby was known for her energy and creativity, and she loved being active. She was a member of the Civil Air Patrol, where she attained the rank of captain. She was also a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, and a proud member of the Ninety-Nines, an association of women pilots founded in 1929. Ruby also volunteered at Auburn Plantation as a hostess and enjoyed membership in the order of the Eastern Star and Rose Croft Garden Club. In addition, she loved singing in the choir at church. She was the family historian, and she enjoyed photographing family gatherings and preserving old family photos. She devoted hundreds of hours to researching the family genealogy and her efforts traced the family line to the colonial era and beyond. She was proud her research earned her membership in the Colonial Dames and Daughters of the American Revolution, and she served as past president of the Governor George Harlan Chapter of the Colonial Dames, XVII Century. Ruby also loved art and created many beautiful watercolor paintings inspired by the beauty of nature and her travels.

Ruby was preceded in death by her husband, John as well as her brother, Lucien “Pete” Smith, brother ,Roy Harvey Smith and her sister-in-law, Opal (Wakefield) Smith.


She is survived by her sister, Margie Smith Whittington, and husband, James, as well as sister-in-law, Betty Jean Smith (Pete), and their families. She was cared for in her last years by her niece, Amaris Smith Robinson, and husband, Jonathan, as well as her grand-nephew, Eli Robinson, and they miss her greatly. Her memory is also treasured by a large extended family of cousins, nieces and nephews. In addition, she was beloved by her church and her friends and neighbors who were like family. Special remembrance goes out to Patricia and Burnsie Marks, Curtis and Mary Grace Gibson, and Ginga Mclaughlin, who were loved and appreciated by Ruby and John.

Heartfelt appreciation also is given to Ruby’s friends and caregivers at Beehive Assisted Living in Starkville, and to Angela, Vanessa, Lakesha, Tamika, Rodonna, Maxine, Mya, and Dorian of Helping Hands 24/7, as well as her friends from Help At Home of Natchez, and all whose kind hands & loving hearts helped support Ruby and John through the past several years.

Please join us for a celebration of Ruby’s life on Friday, June 14, 2024, at Washington United Methodist Church, with Pastor Susan Hood officiating. The family will greet friends at Washington United Methodist from noon until 1 p.m., with memorial service beginning at 1 p.m. A farewell will follow at Greenlawn Memorial Cemetery as Ruby is laid to rest beside her husband, John, under the direction of Laird Funeral Home.

Memorial gifts in Ruby’s memory may be given to Washington United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 37, Washington, MS 39190.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at