By Andrew Wroblewski
Ruth Semon Fahlbusch, a lifelong Huntington resident known around town for the smile that accompanied her nearly everywhere she traveled, including many parades and events that she loved photographing, died peacefully on Dec. 7. She was 91.
“Everywhere she went, she would spread her smile,” Fahlbusch’s middle child, Bruce, said.
“She always cared about everyone else,” he added, noting that Fahlbusch never let a birthday or special event pass by without sending out a celebratory card. Of course, she had to add her own personal touch to the cards first, Bruce said. “She loved making things.”
Fahlbusch was born on New Year’s Day in 1924 to Anna and John F. Semon.
Not only did she ring in the New Year, but Fahlbusch was the first baby born in Huntington Hospital that year.
She grew up with her family off of Main Street, just west of Huntington village. She attended Woodbury Avenue School, which stood on the corner of Woodbury and Soundview roads from 1923-1987. In 1942, she graduated from Huntington High School, attending classes in what today houses Huntington Town Hall.
“Never, ever, ever did they take a school bus, they walked all the way, rain or shine,” Bruce Fahlbusch said.
These walks often ended in trips to Guckenberger’s, the restaurant that today is Munday’s. Fahlbusch became a regular there and continued that tradition with her children when the restaurant later became Munday’s.
Ann Marie Sutherland, Fahlbusch’s youngest child, recalled the Saturday afternoons when she and her mother would venture there for lunch.
“There are black and white pictures on the wall from when she was little and they used to call it ‘Gucke’s.’ It’s so cool,” Sutherland said.
Photography came to play a big part in Fahlbusch’s life after retirement.
First, she married Leonard Fahlbusch in 1943. The couple had three children before divorcing in the 1970s.
Fahlbusch worked for the telephone company during World War II from 1942-1946, before taking time to raise her family. She returned to work in 1971 with Tunis Huntington Dodge, where she remained for 10 years. In 1981, she started working for William Hagerty at Devany Stock Photos in Huntington. She retired in 1994 due to an illness.
After retirement, Fahlbusch took up photography, an extension of her childhood love for the arts when she was an avid painter and played classical violin.
Fahlbusch took photos at various parades and events around Huntington village. Many of her photographs were featured in Long Islander News’ publications over the last 15 years.
“She would come marching up the stairs, dressed to the nines, with an envelope of freshly printed photos, a huge smile on her face, and kind words about the work we were doing,” said Luann Dallojacono, former editor. “But it wasn't just her passion for photographing precious moments that made us look forward to her visits. She was truly a ray of sunshine, and you always felt warm and peaceful in her presence.”
She added, “We called her a friend of the paper, but she was really a friend to all of us.”
In the 1990s, Fahlbusch reconnected with one of her high school friends, the late Roland L'Hommedieu. The couple spent 20 happy years together as they traveled the world, Bruce and Sutherland said. “The two of them were perfect for each other,” Bruce said.
In addition to her son and daughter, Fahlbusch is also survived by her oldest child John Fahlbusch; three grandchildren; and two nephews.
Visitation was held on Saturday at M.A. Connell Funeral Home in Huntington Station, where “the whole room was packed,” Sutherland said.
“It was just beautiful. She would have been so happy to see that, so many people that cared about and remembered her.”
But Bruce added that his mother said she didn’t want those people to be numbed by sadness, but instead “go out and have dinner or have a party.
“That’s her, always thinking about others. ‘I don’t want you to be sad, go out and have dinner,’ she said. We’re hurting, but we’re grateful and we’re thankful to have had her.”