San Francisco lost another bit of its magic on Monday when The Hat Lady, Ruth Dewson, was born to eternal life. The longtime proprietor of Mrs Dewson's Hats had been in declining health for several years forcing her to close her beloved store last spring after nearly four decades.
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, Bruce Springsteen, and Samuel L. Jackson are among the famous who wore her hats, but the local ladies who still wear hats to church would shop there too. Some customers thought she was cranky or even rude (in fact you can still read numerous bad yelp reviews), but Mrs Dewson was always sweet to me. She would even have a twinkle in her eye.
There are good reviews of her old shop and of her, on yelp too. There are other good things one can say. Even though I was never a customer, I met her long ago and always enjoyed our chats. That brilliant smile and the twinkle in her eyes always made my day. She got things done too. It was Ruth Dewson who organized the Western Addition Foundation for Girls. She is credited with starting the Fillmore Jazz Festival. She always spoke her mind. At one point she considered a run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors but concluded it just wasn't for her.
It was just a week ago that I saw her near one of my favorite Hayes Valley haunts and near the facility where she had been living. With an attendant pushing her wheelchair she insisted on stopping after I shouted "Hey Hat Lady." Her smile was a big as ever and she told me that she was doing better and might be able to leave the facility and live on her own again. Alas, she got that one wrong.
Goodbye Hat Lady. Thanks for making a difference!
Visitation will be on November 13th from 5-7pm at The Bryant Mortuary, 635 Fulton Street, San Francisco,
Funeral services will be the following day, November 14th at 11am at
the Jones Memorial United Methodist Church, 1975 Post Street, San Francisco.
Burial will be in San Joaquin National Cemetery, 32053 W. McCabe Road, Gustine, CA.