Ruth got his start at the furniture industry getting his neighborhood buddies to help him haul mattresses for 50 cents an hour and 70 years ago driving a delivery truck. Health issues are forcing him to shut down his Gerard's Furniture shop.
"I is not going home to mope about it," Ruth said, sitting at the middle of the Florida Boulevard showroom. "I am gonna continue working. I got to deliver all this furniture"
Twenty-two years ago, when he turned 65, Ruth brought to help the inventory is sold off by him.
"I went home, and after about 10 days, I went stir crazy," he explained. "So I came back."
Paradoxically, the same company that assisted him in 1996 back with all the retirement sale is currently helping him with this going-out-of-business sale.
Like he did ruth, 87, still does business. His store does not have a site. "I don't text and I don't email," he explained. "Just been a couple of years ago we have a computer for bookkeeping."
Gerard's includes a focus on high-end, American-made furniture created with premium leather.
"All that stuff on the internet, it is like going into the boats. It's gambling. You do not understand what you going to get," he explained. "A number of the leather is seconds, some of it is rejects."
Ruth started working at the furniture business during his senior year in Baton Rouge High at Lloyd Furniture Co., at 1126 North Blvd.. After graduation, he attended LSU, then joined the Coast Guard.
He returned to his occupation and also to Baton Rouge with the furniture store.
"I was making $35 per week in Lloyd Furniture, then I got a offer from Hemenway's Furniture on Plank Road," he said.
During that time he was a salesman at Hemenway's, Ruth got into hydroplane racing. He was a driver for the Tom Cat Baby, a boat with a Corvette engine which won the most prestigious and dangerous Pan American race Lake Pontchartrain in 1958.
Throughout the ship races, Ruth became friends with Lewis Gottlieb, president of City National Bank. Some teams that were racing were endorsed by gottlieb.
1 day, Ruth got a call. The proprietor of Simon Furniture Co. had died and his kids weren't interested in taking over the business. Would Ruth be interested in having a furniture shop?
Gottlieb advised the shop to be checked out by him, and he'd help him finance the deal find out this here when he had been interested.
"It was a nice store, and I knew I could do some good on the market," Ruth said. The problem was money. His wife along with ruth, Selma, had just had their second child, and he only needed a few hundred bucks after paying the hospital bill. However he did have a life insurance policy he bought from a member of the Red Stick Kiwanis Club.
"Mr. Gottlieb advised me to bring him that insurance coverage to the bank," Ruth said. "He told me'You're going to create it."
The Furniture of gerard opened in 1966. There were three workers: a bookkeeper and the Ruths. Ruth sold furniture at the store. In the evenings, he also delivered the items he offered.
At that time, the trend in furniture has been Victorian - and Spanish-style furniture. A successful Atlanta furniture read salesman detected Gerard's Furniture and advised Ruth, he had to get some of those items in the shop. Ruth told the man he did not have the money so that he phoned a Virginia manufacturer and got them to ship three suites of furniture on credit to Gerard's. "That really cranked business up," Ruth said. "We offered the hell out of the furniture"
Ruth heard about a shop on Florida Boulevard which was up available for $500,000.
"It cost $2 million to restore the entire construction," he said. The loan was really large, it was split between CNB and St. Landry Bank in Opelousas.
The Florida Boulevard location of Gerard's Furniture opened around 1975. The shop won acclaim for the completeness of this selection, which included artwork, furniture, fabrics, rugs and decorative accessories. One area is filled from the 1970s with George Rodrigue prints. His son Larry includes a gallery of original Louisiana art and prints at a different part of the shop.
To round out the selection Ruth visits the significant furniture markets in North Carolina.
"Baton Rouge has ever been interested in good taste and standard furniture," he said. "The men and women who purchase fine furniture want to sit in it, would like to feel it, and if they have any understanding at all, unzip it and see what's inside ."
Recently, he was diagnosed with lung disorder. That led him to close the store after meeting with four children and his wife.
The choice was made to liquidate the business, because his children have professional jobs.
"I never got rich, but I managed to raise four children, send them all off to college -- and not have to pay any institutions or attorneys to get them from difficulty," he explained.
Despite his years in business, Ruth said he decided overnight to shut the store.
"My family would go mad trying to work out everything in the furniture shop," he explained.
He also made a point of helping eight grandchildren and his kids find items in the store to help decorate their houses.
Plans are to spend the next few months promoting the inventory off . The shop will close, when everything is gone.
Ruth said he's seen a boost in clients, since announcing he shut down his organization. The day after it was announced he was shutting, 500 people showed up at the shop. The following day about 400 people were there.
"We had them come from 20, 30, 40, even 50 years ago to purchase things on our economy," he said. "It's been rewarding."