Ruth A. Metz, 97, ‘Rosie the Riveter’

July 3, 1919-March 7, 2017
Ruth A. Metz July 3, 1919-March 7, 2017

Ruth Andrina Metz of Wainscott, the matriarch of a large extended family and an indomitable bicycle rider until the age of 92, died at home on March 7. She was 97 and had been unwell for about two months.

Mrs. Metz moved from Manhattan to Wainscott with her family when she was  5, attended the Wainscott School, and graduated from East Hampton High School. She was baptized at the First Baptist Church of Bridgehampton when she was 10 and years later, after she had moved back to the East End, served for many years as the church’s Sunday School superintendent. She was also the secretary of the Missionary Society, a 50-year member of the Eastern Baptist Association, and a member of the Wainscott Sewing Society.

After graduating from high school and earning a B.A. in literature at Hunter College, Mrs. Metz was recruited at the Harlem Y.W.C.A. by a World War II plant employee to work at the Brooklyn Navy Base helping build battleships. She was soon promoted to supervise the measurements of bolts holding the gun turrets in place — “an original Rosie the Riveter,” her family wrote.

When the war ended, she got a job in the cataloguing department of the Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library. In 1947 she married Henry Edward Metz, and a few years later they returned to Wainscott. In 1960 she built a house — for $6,000 — on what remained of a one-plus-acre parcel her grandfather had bought for $100 in 1908, and brought up her four children there.

In addition to her church activities, Mrs. Metz worked for the journalist and author Shana Alexander — at whose Wainscott vacation house she met Maya Angelou — Truman Capote, Peter Jennings, and Frank Lloyd Wright. She especially enjoyed cooking for and with Craig Claiborne. She rode her bike everywhere she needed to be, until she felt the risk of falling was likely.

Ruth Andrina Metz was born on July 3, 1919, in New York City, one of six children of Wilson Walker and the former Maude Heath. Her brother Warren Walker and sister Margie Harris died before her, as did as her son Kent Edward Metz Sr. of Florida, in September 2016. Her surviving children are Mary Grady of Southampton, Robin Metz of Wainscott, and Roger Metz of Daytona Beach, Fla. 

She is also survived by a brother, William Walker of New York City, and two sisters, Helen Walker of New York and Billie Gourdine of the Bronx, as well as 6 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and many great-great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins, also into the greats.

The family received visitors on Sunday evening from 7 to 9 and the following morning from 10 to 11:45 at the First Baptist Church of Southampton. The Rev. Henry Faison Jr. presided at the funeral service there on Monday at noon. 
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Correction: An earlier version of this obituary that appeared in print and online contained errors. Mrs. Metz's husband was Henry Edward Metz, not Henry Edward Metz Sr. A brother who died before her was Warren Walker. Services for Mrs. Metz were held on Sunday and Monday, not on Saturday and Sunday.