Over the past three years, Hastings Tennis Association (HTA) has received a total of $13,500 in grants from the Ruth Gale and George Doffing Charitable Fund, a $7 million charitable fund created by Ruth prior to her death. The grants have been used by HTA to improve tennis facilities and to keep tennis affordable for the Hastings community. As a beneficiary of Ruth’s generosity, it is important for the members of HTA to know who Ruth Doffing was and the things that were important to her and her husband, George, and to honor her legacy through HTA’s mission and actions.
Ruth Gale was born in Moulton, Iowa near the Missouri line on August 20, 1910. Six months later, her family moved to South Dakota when the federal government offered free land grants. In return for the free land, families were required to stay a minimum of three years. Ruth said that she was never given a middle name at birth because her family was busy preparing for that move. The family stayed in South Dakota until Ruth’s older sister, Glyde, graduated from high school. When Glyde came to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota, Ruth, her mother, and the rest of her siblings came too. Ruth’s father stayed in South Dakota a few more years to work the land and to finish up his business affairs.
When Ruth’s family first moved to Minneapolis, it was during WWI. They lived in an apartment across from the old Abbott Hospital. She remembered that the hospital blew a whistle when the war was over. Ruth graduated from Central High School in Minneapolis at age 16. After graduation, she went to work as a bank teller at Northwestern National Bank in Minneapolis. She made $50 a month and began a life-long habit of self-sufficiency. She paid her mother $15 a month for room and board, paid her other expenses, and then managed to tuck a little away for her travel fund.
In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, Ruth started something she would enjoy the rest of her life: traveling throughout the U.S. and the world. One of her first adventures was a trip to the East coast. She paid her brother $50 to use his car and headed east. Then, it was a trip to Spain, France and Italy, traveling by ship. Some years, Ruth would leave in December and return in March.
Ruth met her future husband, George Doffing, through some mutual friends in Hastings. They were married on May 5, 1947 and honeymooned in New York. They moved to Hastings the following year and bought a small home on Seventh Street. George and his brothers had careers in business and finance and established a bank in Wabasha, Minnesota. George and Ruth loved to entertain, play bridge, fish, and golf. They were instrumental in establishing the Hastings Country Club. They sold shares to finance the building, recruited volunteers within the community, and sold lots around the golf course as well. George and Ruth were married only twelve years before George died in 1960.
Ruth was known by her family, friends, and the communities of Hastings and Wabasha as a wise and thoughtful woman with a heart full of kindness and compassion, these traits are still felt within the Hastings community many years after her death in 2004 at the age of 93 via the grants issued from her charitable foundation. Grant beneficiaries have included the Hastings YMCA, Hastings Family Service and the Hastings School District.
Hastings Tennis Associations strives to honor the memory of Ruth and George Doffing, by instilling in each and every one of the youth who participate in its programs the values of hard work, good sportsmanship and inclusiveness. By demonstrating these values themselves, HTA’s coaches serve as mentors to every junior player in the Hastings community.
The Hastings Tennis Association is extremely thankful for George and Ruth’s generosity and contributions to the Hastings community.