NAPLES, Fla. — Memorial services Ruth Whitney Dickson Orcutt, 92, who died peacefully at her home in Naples, Florida on Aug. 19, will be held at the Green Mountain Horse Association, Woodstock, Vermont on September 7th, at 1:30 p.m. All who knew and loved Ruth are invited to attend.
She was the wife of the late Lyman Orcutt, co-owner of Orcland Farms in West Newbury, Massachusetts.
Ruth was born on Dec. 27, 1919, daughter of the late Brenton H. Dickson Jr. and Ruth Bennett Dickson, at the Ivey Abbey, the Dickson family farm in Weston, Massachusetts. Ruth Whitney Dickson Orcutt grew up on the farm with seven other siblings. It was a remote part of town, and the children found plenty of amusement in the outdoors. Sliding down the steep connecting roofs, digging hay tunnels, building shack cities and riding horses, driving ponies or even dogs into many different adventures were all parts of life. There was always activity, and later in life most every sport was played or at least attempted.
Ruth was a Concord Academy graduate and went on to graduate from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Physical Therapy. In college, she won the first intercollegiate sailing race in which women were allowed to participate, on the Charles River in Boston. She was an accomplished sailor who won a multitude of races through out her life. She sailed her last race in the late 1990s at the Chatham Yacht Club. Ruth later interned at Boston Children’s Hospital. In her 20s she was a Boston Debutante and a member of the Boston Junior League. When she was not competing her Morgan Horses, she was an avid sailor on Pleasant Bay on South Orleans.
In Vermont, Ruth was one of the first skiers to compete at Mt. Tom in Woodstock and use the Rope Tow. She went on to qualify for the 1948 U.S. Winter Olympics Team and was an Olympic hopeful. She was on the ski team for the University of New Hampshire. She skied all over the world.
In the Woodstock area, Ruth was a longtime supporter of the Green Mountain Horse Association since its inception. She competed in the first 100-Mile Ride, and placed sixth overall in the 50th anniversary 1986 100-Mile Ride on Orcland Highness. Ruth also competed at the First Morgan Nationals held at the Upwey Farms, which is now the Green Mountain Horse Association. She was also the Woman of the year in 1977 be the American Morgan Horse Association and later was inducted into the Morgan Horse Hall of Fame. Ruth was named Woman of the Year by the previously named American Horse Show Association.
At Orcland Farms, her farm in West Newbury, Massachusetts, Ruth had a successful training, breeding, and lesson program for many years. She helped many famous horse trainers start their careers and grow their love of the Morgan Horse through her Summer Camp Program and lesson programs.
Under the leadership of Ruth and her husband, Lyman Orcutt, Orcland Farms gained was world-renown, and they bred many famous Morgan horses that were bought and sold across the world. Ruth and Lyman showed horses all over the United States and were great supporters of the youth involved in the horse industry. Ruth also judged some competitions. At one point in the 1960s, the Orcland Farms head count reached 95, and – despite a rigorous summer show schedule – Ruth still managed to sustain her youth-oriented Summer Camp Program at Orcland Farms, which was near and dear to her heart.
She was also an avid worldwide traveler, taking numerous trips throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia Minor.
During her retirement years, Ruth summered in Brownsville, VT and remained active in the GMHA community. She would help with crossing, awards, and would always be there for her seat on the porch for vetting out. Ruth never missed the New England Morgan Horse Show until her health began to decline in 2007. Orcland Farms was inducted into the American Morgan Horse Hall of Fame in 2011. She made cameo appearances at the shows through her late 70s and early 80s, driving her homebred Morgans. Her last show ring appearance was in 1999, showing in the Family Class at New England Morgan with her sister Anna Ela, nephew Mark Caisse, niece Nancy Caisse, and granddaughter Christine Orcutt Henderson.
Ruth is survived by her daughters, Elizabeth D. Orcutt, Louise Orcutt Henry, her son Chip Orcutt; her granddaughters, Christine Orcutt Henderson and Lark Renee Henry; grandson Charles Chandler Henry; and a great-granddaughter, Megan E. Carlson.
She was predeceased by her brothers, Brenton H. Dickson III, Edward M. Dickson, Theodore Dickson, William Dickson, and her sisters, Anna Ela and Mary Dickson.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations in her name to either the GMHA Education and Competition Scholarships or the UPHA Benevolent Fund. The GMHA mailing address is: P.O. Box 8, South Woodstock, VT, 05071; and the UPHA Benevolent Fund mailing address is: UPHA Benevolent Fund, Cheryl Innis, c/o Somersdream Stable, 341 Watchaug Rd., Somers, CT, 06071.
This obituary first appeared in the August 23, 2012 print edition of the Vermont Standard.
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