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Novel combines romance, travel

By DONNA CRONK - For The Shelbyville News

Ruth Ann Willis of New Castle spent 42 years working for Trans World Airlines. Fringe benefits included free airfare and sometimes riding first class – even to London, England. Now enjoying retirement, the Shelby County native decided to write and publish a novel that is largely set in London and combines fictional elements such as the storyline with actual travel tidbits about England.

It is her favorite destination and she enjoys so much about the city, including not only the sites but the history and the people.

The book is called “Broken Promises,” and is available for $8 from Ruth Ann. She is available for possible speaking engagements. Anyone interested can contact her at ruthannsbook@gmail.com.

Ruth Ann and her husband of 62 years, Ralph, spent their working years in Indianapolis. They moved to New Castle 15 years ago to be near their daughter, Martha McGrew, and her family. Their other daughter, Rita Gill, lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Willises have three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

They enjoy living here and Ruth Ann is a member of PEO Chapter AD and their church is First United Methodist in New Castle.

A graduate of Shelbyville High School, Ruth Ann attended Jordan College of Music at Butler University where she received a scholarship for her musical talent on the viola. After a year, she went on to Ball State University where she took a secretarial course. She worked at Charles Mayer and Co. in Indianapolis for a time but a newspaper ad about an opening at TWA caught her eye.

She landed the job of secretary to the sales manager at TWA in downtown Indianapolis. Later, her office moved to the airport. From that position, she went on to work as secretary, a job that would now be called an administrative assistant, to the TWA airport manager.

She enjoyed her years with TWA. “Every day was different,” Ruth Ann says. “There was always something happening that was exciting and interesting.”

Because they could fly free as a perk of her job, Ruth Ann said they went to California a lot – even just for a weekend. Their travels included Australia, London and more.

She became involved in the Executive Women International organization and helped organize a chapter in Fort Wayne. When the corporate board decided to organize a branch in London, Ruth Ann was asked to help with the task. In two years, that involved six trips to London.

“I made friends with the ladies and I was invited to their homes a couple of times,” Ruth Ann recalls.

She modeled a home in her novel after one she visited in London. Also while there, a highlight was having dinner at Parliament. She even got to meet with a member of Parliament and sit in the chamber chairs.

After her retirement, Ruth Ann decided to write about some of her trips and experiences. She said the story “sort of wrote itself.” She showed it to some friends and then put it away. After an essay she wrote about her childhood home appeared in her magazine for women, she decided to pursue getting her manuscript published.

She enlisted retired New Castle High School English teacher Jane Cronk to edit her work and Joy Herbkersman to help with a cover.

Cronk says of her experience editing the book, “I’m just happy that I can encourage people to write.”

The author was excited when the proof-copy of her book arrived.

“I thought it’s really happened.”

Donna Cronk is a writer for The Courier-Times in New Castle.