Ruthie Garner's beginning: Town and Country

Ruthie Garner's beginning: Town and Country
Lynn Ranew Mertins
Lynn Ranew Mertins
Tyron Spearman
Tyron Spearman

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - "Good afternoon and welcome to Town and Country. I'm your new host Ruthie Garner. And finally Albany has something in common just like Montgomery, Birmingham, Atlanta, and Jacksonville. We have our own civic center..."

That is how south Georgia television viewers were introduced to Ruthie Garner in January 1983.

Since then, she has conducted thousands of interviews, kept us informed on countless community events, and become an important part of our lives.

For 31 years Ruthie has hosted thousands of guests on Town and Country, and today WALB News 10 at Noon.

Many of those guests have become close personal friends of Ruthie and you as they came into your home at lunch to visit.

Ruthie Garner hosted both the famous and not so famous on Town and Country. Like Georgia Bulldog Coach Vince Dooley, but always with a special touch.

Pharmacist Charlie Rouse found out guesting with Ruthie on Town and Country made you well known. In fact, he got his nickname and his businesses name from a caller while appearing with Ruthie.

Rouse said "One of the people called in and said I want to ask the Medicine Man a question. Ruthie's eyes lit up like that, and she said well what do you say Medicine Man. And Ruthie actually put the name on me that stuck."

Caterer Lynne Ranew Mertins would come on the "Ruthie show" and cook twice a week. WALB viewers could come get a copy of her recipes, until it got too popular and overwhelming. Mertins said "And Ruthie said you need to write a book."

In fact Mertins wrote three cook books, and became one of South Georgia's premier caterers.

Mertins said "I credit Ruthie with all of that. She has been a blessing in my life. Because I just never thought people would want all of my recipes like that."

One of South Georgia's most well known personalities is Tyron Spearman, who has been a frequent guest on "Ruthie's show." Close friends, they also have co-hosted many telethons like "Let's Make A Bid" for the Museum of Art.

Spearman said "She's a hinter. And she loves her community. Ruthie hints, you know that's a nice gift up there, I sure would like to have that. And then I have to buy it and then give to her as my contribution to the Museum of Art. It's a fun thing and we do it every year."

Another annual favorite, our 10 TV Family Christmas Show, when all employee kids would join to get gifts from Santa.

Guests were never just on a TV show, they became friends with Ruthie, and then friends of all South Georgia as well.

Ruthie singing "Silent Night," was one of the popular Christmas spots she shared with viewers over the years.

She has performed often at churches, charity fundraisers, and community events throughout south Georgia. Some of you may not know that in addition to working at WALB, Ruthie traveled for two years around the country with singer/personality Anita Bryant.

She was neighbors with the Bee Gees, and even roomed with NBC's Kathie Lee Gifford.

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