Born: March 23, 1917

Died: July 23, 2003

Married: Eugene H. Freeman

Children: Peg Rice

Ruth Wardner Freeman was a nurse and a nursing educator from Bloomingdale.  As a young woman she worked at the Lake Clear Inn; her recollections of that time appear below.

Tupper Lake Free Press and Herald, December 22, 1971

Receives Permanent License as Nursing Home Administrator

Ruth W. Freeman of Coreys, Tupper Lake, is one of six Franklin county residents who received permanent licenses as nursing administrators following examinations conducted by the State Health Department, Dr. Hollis S. Ingraham, state health commissioner, announced today.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 11, 2003

Ruth Wardner Freeman

KALISPELL, Mont - Ruth Wardner Freeman died peacefully of natural causes on Monday, July 21, 2003 in her little corner of the world at Immanuel Lutheran Nursing Home. She was 86. She was eased into her next journey, surrounded by the love of her family, the tender, devoted care of the entire ILH staff and the gentle guidance of Hospice personnel.

Ruth was born March 25, 1917 in Utica to Sewell F. and Velma Johnson Wardner. She was the oldest of five children raised in Bloomingdale, in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, on the family's "Edgewood Farm."

At the age of 16, she graduated from Bloomingdale Union School, in 1933. A lifetime lover of books and learning, she continued her education initially with the completion of a dietitian's degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology. She graduated from the Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing in Troy, studied at Russell Sage College in Troy, and received a BS degree in nursing education with a specialty in medical-surgical nursing from Columbia University in New York City in 1948. While putting herself through school, Ruth worked at St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan. Later in life, she worked on her master's degree in geriatric nursing from the State University New York at Plattsburgh.

During her life, Ruth held many positions in the teaching and supervision of nursing, in hospitals in New York City, Omaha, Neb. and New Castle, Pa. From 1957 to 1961, she was a school nurse in New Castle, Pa. Later positions in geriatric nursing were at the Sunmount V.A. Hospital in Tupper Lake, Gabriels Sanatorium, and Ray Brook State Hospital. In 1968, she helped with the design and opening of a "state-of-the-art" geriatric nursing facility, Uihlein Mercy Center, in Lake Placid, where she was director of nursing. Retiring in 1980, she returned to Bloomingdale until 1984 when she moved to Kalispell, Mont. to be near her daughter and family.

Ruth joyously became a mother in May 1950 to her only child, Marguerite "Peg" Freeman. In 1961, she and her husband, Eugene H. Freeman, built a home in Coreys. Following her retirement, Ruth enjoyed traveling and she almost achieved her goal of visiting all of the lower 48 states in her Volkswagen camper vans that she named "Gramma's White Rabbit" and "Gramma's Green Grasshopper." After moving to Kallispell, Ruth resided at the Elms Apartments and did volunteer work for Flathead Red Cross, Kalispell Regional Hospital and the Special Friends Advocacy Program. In May of 1995 she moved to Immanuel Lutheran Nursing Home.

She is survived by one daughter, Marguerite "Peg" Rice and her husband William H. of Kalispell, Mont., three grandchildren: Jason S. Cajune and his wife Vedra of Livingston, Mont., Sarah Smith of East Glacier, Mont., and Haley Greene and her husband Robert of Redding, Conn., three great-grandchildren, Sophia M. Cajune and Lindsey and Heather Greene; two brothers, Richard S. Wardner of Bellevue, Neb. and Charles F. Emmons and his wife Sylvia of Monument, Colo.; one sister, Louise LaFountain and her husband Robert of Saranac Lake; one sister-in-law, Hesper Wardner of Spring Hill, Fla,. and numerous nieces and nephews.

Ruth was predeceased by her parents, Sewell and Velma; her husband Eugene H. Freeman, in February 1966, and a brother, Robert S. Wardner.

Ruth will be remembered for many things – her gifted mind, her wonderful sense of humor, her love of all music and literature, her passion for crossword puzzles and her love of nature, especially her beloved Adirondack Mountains where her Wardner/Johnson/Freeman family histories are deeply intertwined. She leaves a lifetime legacy of dedicated, compassionate nursing care, where the patient/resident's needs were paramount. Her fiercely independent spirit will be felt in the wind rustling through a birch tree, the sound of babbling water over rocks in a stream, in the song of a chickadee; and in the tender healing touch from all of the nurses who taught over a career of 32 years.

Ruth's family will be forever grateful for the loving care and devotion she received at Immanuel Lutheran Home for the past eight years. She was treated like a valued family member, with dignity, respect and affection. If angels live on earth, they reside in the hearts and healing hands of these good people.

Cremation has taken place under the guidance of Johnson Mortuary. A celebration of her life took place on Sunday, July 27 at Immanuel Lutheran Home.

Memorials in her name may be sent to Immanuel Lutheran Home, 185 Crestline Ave., Kalispell, MT love of all music and literature. her 59901.

The following manuscript by Ruth Freeman is from the Adirondack Collection of the Saranac Lake Free Library:


Charles Henry Wardner was born in Burlington, Vermont on July 22, 1854 and died in Lake Clear, New York on December 29, 1932. He was my grandfather's brother. His entire career was spent as a "hotel man" — either in managing someone else's property or, later, building his own. I believe these were all summer places. The only place that was open all winter was Sunset Rock Hotel in Bloomingdale. In his later years he spent his winters in Florida. At one time he ran Hiawatha Lodge in Coreys. I do not know if he owned it. He then built Rustic Lodge across the road from Coreys on the Upper Saranac. I do not know who owns it now, but when I was there it was owned by Gregory Nowakoski and for many, many years it was just called "Swensons." Rustic Lodge consisted of the main lodge and several cabins. There were probably other buildings necessary to the maintenance of such a business. At some time he built a large hotel in Bloomingdale for "curing" tuberculosis patients. This was called Sunset Rock Hotel and named for a very large rock at the top of a nearby hill from which one could see absolutely beautiful sunsets. This building had three stories plus an annex for the employee rooms, and two large barns. It had a wide porch around two sides and a circular driveway. This property was at the end of the road on which the present school is situated. It must have been built in the early twenties or possibly as early as 1915, as my father died there in 1927 and we had lived there a few years before that. Mr. Wardner's step-son, Jack Cook, I believe, lived there for a while after we moved out, but I am not sure of that. Long after the tuberculosis patients left, the upper two floors were closed off, and the family lived on the first two floors. However, as the original living room and dining room were very large, they were also closed off to conserve heat in the winters.

I do not know what year he closed Rustic Lodge and started building Lake Clear Inn, but I do remember being told how he had all of the cabins from Rustic Lodge transported across the ice of the Upper Saranac, then by road to Lake Clear (the shore now fronted by Route 30 in the village of Lake Clear, and then across the ice of that lake).

He had two children. William H. Wardner (1888 - 1974) was born in the house that is presently owned by Mrs. Thomas Norman, Sr. (Olive) on the Bloomingdale Road. He died in the Alice Hyde Hospital in Malone, N.Y. Will worked with his father his entire life, and on his father's death continued to run Lake Clear Inn until he decided to sell the property and the business to a Mr. John Roosa. I do not know what year this was, but there must be someone in Lake Clear who would remember. Mr. Roosa ran it as a summer resort for a few years, before he sold everything at auction, the hotel and all of its contents, and the property was subdivided into small lots for private ownership. Some buyers bought plots of land without any structures, some bought plots that included the cabins — kept them as they were, or tore them down and built new ones. This was in the early sixties. Gene and I had wanted to go to the auction, but he was ill and we didn't get there. Eileen George will know the exact year as she and Lou bought their land at the time, I think.

Mr. Wardner's daughter, Mallie Bell Wardner Fribance, was born in Wilmington, N.Y. March 3, 1883 and died at Uihlein Mercy Center in Lake Placid in May of 1978 at the age of 95. She always helped her father, both at Rustic Lodge and then at Lake Clear Inn until she married and moved to West Hartford, Conn. Eventually she obtained the job as Postmistress of the Upper St. Regis Post Office on Upper St. Regis Lake and was there for over thirty years. As this Post Office was only open in the summers for those people who had camps on Upper St. Regis Lake, she spent the rest of the year at her home in Hartford. But it enabled her to spend many happy days in the woods she loved and visited Lake Clear Inn and he brother often. She always went over for Sunday dinner with the family. She was beloved by all who camped at Upper St. Regis Lake and liked to tell that whenever Mrs. Marjory Merriweather Post went into Saranac Lake her daughter, Dina Merrill, used to ask to stay with Mrs. Fribance because she preferred that to going into town. Of course at that time, Dina was just a child.

The Lake Clear Inn property as I remember it consisted of a large four-story hotel with a wide porch overlooking the lake. There was also a porch on the second story, but as most of the guests had cabins, this porch was not used very much. The second and third floors were for guests, and the fourth floor and cupola were for women employees. Two ladies shared the cupola, and although they had more privacy, they also had a lot of heat up there! The first floor consisted of the lobby, the dining room, family dining room (off the office which was a corner of the lobby) and a large dining room for the employees. As it had a large corner in which there were rockers, etc., it also served as a visiting area for the employees. The large kitchen and pastry room were also on the first floor, but in the rear of the building. The cabins were in two locations. One row of cabins was in the woods but facing the lake, and the other row of cabins was facing the lake, but had open grassy areas around them. There was a three story boathouse, dock and raft down at the water's edge. Several rowboats and canoes were available for rent, and they were stored in the lower part of the boathouse. The second and third stories had several bedrooms and were used for married couples, as they were larger than the other employee rooms. Another two-story building down at the water's edge was called the "Casino". The second story had a porch facing the lake, and it was for any recreational activities that the employees might want. There was a juke box there, and I think I remember a ping-pong table. It wasn't used much, but it was available and rather cool as most of the employees rooms were very warm. The first floor of this building was used for rooms for the male employees. A rather large service building was behind the hotel. The top floor housed the laundry, and the first floor was used for storage. I believe that in the beginning there was only the hotel and the cabins, but other buildings were added over the years as the need arose. One of these was the two-story, three bedroom home that Will had built for them (Will and Eva). This was behind the hotel but across the road. As there was a slight hill between the hotel and this property, the house had a magnificent view of the lake. There was also a very popular golf course and a putting green.

There were many wonderful guests who returned year after year, but probably the most famous was Oley Speaks who composed the music for "The Road To Mandalay" and "Sylvia". Those guests who returned year after year, and usually for the entire summer, either added to, or completely replaced the furniture and furnishings of their cabin. These cabins were never rented to anyone else, even if the usual guests had not yet arrived or had already left for the season. This was a verbal arrangement between them and Mr. Wardner. I do not know if there was any monetary arrangement to insure this — probably not. Likewise, these "regular" guests also had their own table in the dining room which they kept year after year. However, if they were not in residence, these tables could be used for other guests as we always knew when the usual people would be there and want the table. Many entire families would be there for the summer — in some cases, three generations. It was a beautiful place to vacation with children.

The staff consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Wardner, a women in charge of the office, a dining room hostess, about eight waitresses, a pastry cook, a chef and his helper, boathouse man, night watchman, four maids, two young men who doubled as caddies and bellhops, two or three men who did the maintenance and ground work, one man who did only carpentry. A crew of four to six women would come early in the summer to clean the guests' cabins and hotel rooms after the winter season when everything was closed up. These women were usually maids or waitresses who lived nearby and wanted the extra work.

This information comes from five summers (1937 - 1941) of working at Lake Clear Inn as dining room hostess and from conversations held with Will and Mallie. In addition, as a child, a visit to the Inn was often a favorite Sunday afternoon ride. As it was only summer work, there were no days off, although Will was most understanding if anything very important came up. In addition to the salary, we all received our room and board, and some of the employees received a very good addition through tips. This was mainly the waitresses, the maids and the caddies. In addition, the staff was a very friendly group, and worked together as a family. I don't ever remember hearing an argument, and if working with the waitresses (I was really in charge of them) I can attest to the fact that there was very little friction of any kind. Will was a very easy-going person to work for and he engendered this cooperation re their work because they liked and respected him so much. I don't remember him ever to admonish an employee, and if it happened, no one ever knew about it.

At the time I worked there I knew him as my father's cousin. Many years later he became my brother-in-law when Gene and I were married (1961) as Will's wife, Eva, was Gene's sister. Will and Eva both died in the early seventies, in Malone, at the Alice Hyde Hospital. They had been living with a couple with whom he had made an arrangement for care for the rest of their lives.

Mallie never had any children, and was always like a second mother to me. I visited her often — both at Upper St. Regis Lake and in West Hartford, whenever I was in the Adirondacks on vacation. She was losing her sight rapidly, and when she could no longer manage her house or her own care she sold the house, and moved to Lake Placid. I was then Director of Nursing at Uihlein Mercy Center, and there was an available bed for her in 1969. Madden's went to West Hartford and brought all of her furniture to be stored in their warehouse, and I drove down and drove her back for a brief visit to the Placid Memorial Hospital for a medical evaluation before being admitted to U.M.C. This also enabled her to be nearer to her brother who was able to visit her fairly often until his health prevented it. Mallie remained at Uihlein until her death at 95 in May of 1978. Although I learned a lot about her father's hotel career from family conversations, she was the one who told me most of the things that I have listed here, in addition to what I learned from working at Lake Clear Inn for five summers.

Mr. Charles Warner married twice – each time to widows. His first wife was Addie Hickok Reeves and the second was Sarah – Cook. I do not know what Aunt Sarah's maiden name was.