By Jamison Hooks
Bostwick was bustling with activity this Fourth of July as hungry visitors from near and far came out for one of the town’s most anticipated celebrations, the Fourth of July BBQ.
This year’s BBQ was extra special because Patricia Ruark Fleming brought a little piece of Bostwick history back to town for everyone to enjoy.
Fleming is the daughter of Bostwick native Walter “Chief” Ruark who is known for his athletic accomplishments at the University of Georgia and his bravery during World War II.
Ruark led the UGA Bulldogs to their first National Championship and was offered multiple professional football contracts.
Ruark signed with the Cleveland Rams but shortly thereafter his leadership and bravery was needed in World War II.
Ruark was 24 years old when he began serving as a Staff Sergeant in the 47th Infantry Regiment of the Ninth Division in World War II.
In 1944 at age 26 Ruark led a five-man patrol through Belgium searching for enemy snipers.
It was then that Ruark was killed instantaneously from one shot by a German Sniper.
Ruark was honored for his service and bravery with a Silver Star and a Purple Heart.
Over the years, Fleming has carefully preserved her fathers belongings and proudly displayed items such as the Bible he carried with him in battle, his UGA football uniform, and many other documents, photos, and momentos.
“The football jersey is one of my favorite items of my dad’s because its what he is wearing in so many of his photos,” said Fleming.
Fleming explained that eventually her father’s belongings will be put on display permanently at the Susie Agnes Hotel but until then she is excited to share his memory on special occasions such as the Fourth of July.
If you missed the Walter Ruark display this time around make sure to attend the Bostwick Cotton Gin Festival in November when Fleming will bring the items back once again.