This is the fifth of an eight-part series profiling the 2016 Outstanding Women of Clinton County. Tickets for the luncheon event — to be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 5 at the Roberts Centre — are $25 (cash or check accepted; make check payable to “OWCC”). Reservations can be made at the Wilmington News Journal, 761 S. Nelson Ave., Wilmington, OH 45177. The News Journal’s office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. If you have any questions, please call 937-382-2574. Reservations will be accepted through March 1. Julie Isphording will be the guest speaker. Julie ran the first ever women’s Olympic Marathon in 1984; she is an award-winning syndicated radio host, national keynote speaker and magazine columnist.
There’s a good reason why Ruby Edwards Porter has long been known as the “Tax Lady.” The current district income tax coordinator estimates that in 2015 approximately 500 Clinton County citizens received expert tax service — and frequently a considerable refund — because of her work.
As noted by Leona Rose, who nominated Porter to the Outstanding Women of Clinton County class of 2016, she lives by the motto attributed to Texas politician Bill Archer: “We must care for each other more and tax each other less.”
Born in 1926, Porter grew up during the hard years of the Depression. In 1948, she graduated from Wilmington College with a degree in mathematics, which prepared her for a long teaching career in the Cincinnati and Loveland areas. In 1982, while still living in Loveland, she volunteered for the first time as a tax aide through the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), assisting low- to moderate-income taxpayers free of charge, with emphasis on elderly clients. This experience led her to find many ways to lessen the average citizen’s tax-filing burden.
After moving back to Wilmington and noting the absence in this area of tax assistance for retired and low-income earners, she started an AARP-affiliated regional tax service for Clinton, Fayette, Greene, and Highland counties. She was district coordinator for this service for nearly three decades. Currently, about 20 volunteers help to provide the service Porter initiated, many of whom have been directly recruited and mentored by her.
She still works as a very active volunteer, traveling to Blanchester and Washington Court House to advise taxpayers three or four days a week during tax season. And even after April 15, she’s on call for those who have questions and concerns about their returns.
The director of the Wilmington Public Library, where the county’s tax services are housed, says that Porter “has a passion for people and loves helping them. She just quietly goes about her business, doing good for others and doesn’t make a big deal out of it.” According to Rose, “The extent of this service, and the grateful appreciation of local citizens, is our nominee’s lasting legacy.”
Porter’s daughter recalls that, as a member of the Cincinnati Friends Meeting, “she always worked or volunteered in caring ways … teaching, tutoring, Cub Scout leader, 4H leader, serving our Quaker meeting in just about all committees.”
At different times during the 1980s and 1990s, she was volunteer treasurer of the Miami Center Quarterly Meeting of Friends, the United Society of Friends Women (USFW) International, and the Cincinnati Monthly Meeting of Friends. Her more recent volunteer activities for the Wilmington Yearly Meeting (WYM) have been equally extensive. She has served as treasurer of the WYM USFW and WYM Fiduciary Corporation (from 1994 to 2006), and has chaired the WYM Finance Committee.
Porter has also led senior exercise classes at Wilmington’s Friendly Center for nearly 25 years. She is currently a reading tutor. In her spare time she helps the elderly with writing checks and balancing their checkbooks.