RUTH PITTS grew up in West Long Branch, NJ, the third of four children. After high school she went to Glassboro State College in Glassboro, NJ. She graduated with a BA in Elementary/Secondary and Special Education. She married a Speech and Theatre major while a senior. Following graduation, and a brief stint as a teacher she worked as Administrative Assistant to the President of a Junior College in South Jersey, then as Secretary to Manager of Sales for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Williamsburg, VA., while her husband attended law school. Two sons later, the family moved to La Maddalena, Sardinia, Italy ... a very small island in the Mediterranean Sea. Upon returning to the U.S. and a two-year stay on the Navy Base in Pensacola, FL, the family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan where they resided for 30+ years. RN training in Grand Rapids, Michigan, resulted in a second career as a nurse. Ruth was an OR Nurse at a hospital for five years and then OR Supervisor at an outpatient surgical center for 25 years until retiring in 2014. Having grandparents from PA move to Sarasota in the 50's, followed by her parents from NJ in 2001, Ruth has spent many family vacations in Sarasota. The home in which she now lives was originally her maternal grandparents' home. When Ruth's parents aged, and needed more help, she moved from Grand Rapids to Sarasota and became a resident in 2014. As full-time caregiver she was able to help her parents through the difficult stages of her Dad's dementia and his death in 2016. She continues as caregiver for her mother who is 96.Ruth has two sons and six grandchildren, all in Michigan, and tries to get back as often as possible to be with them. When not at the theatre, or helping her mother, Ruth enjoys cooking, gardening and reading. (She hasn't had a TV for 3 years!) While FST has been very thankful for my hours of volunteering, and shows it by doing so many nice things for ushers, I must say that FST has been a lifesaver for me. Ours is definitely a win/win relationship. During the end stages of my Dad's life, when I was physically and emotionally drained, I could "get away" to the theatre in the evening, even if for just an hour or two, to recharge my "emotional bank". Being with other people... other ushers, FST staff, patrons, interns, servers, etc., helped me so much. I enjoy people, all kinds of people, and get a real sense of being part of something positive and bigger than myself. FST offers diversity and exposure to challenging ideas all while keeping the theatre experience affordable. I am proud to think I can be part of that.
KAREN OLSON was a voice major and piano minor graduating from Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education. She began teaching elementary music in Maryland and also participated in non-professional musical theater at the Army Post nearby. After two years, she auditioned and was accepted into the 724th Air Force Band of the Pacific Northwest, Washington State. While there, she started (and eventually completed) a Master’s Degree in Human Behavior through Pacific Lutheran University. She sang with the band for 1 ½ years before becoming an Air Force officer. She continued to sing with choirs and non-professional choruses throughout her military career, and performed musical shows, plus numerous solo concerts in Virginia and Florida. Karen retired as a Defense Contractor position in October 2011 and moved to Sarasota, Florida. Since being a full-time resident, she enjoys singing with the Choral Artists of Sarasota and Key Chorale, and thoroughly enjoys ushering at both the Sarasota Opera House and especially, Florida Studio Theater where the variety, the education, the intern program and atmosphere are a delight.
MARY MUNKHOLM was raised in Minnesota and has one son. She taught special education for 40 years in Minnesota. In 2010, she purchased a home in Sarasota and became a full-time resident in 2016. She has been an usher volunteer at FST for the past four years and was honored to be selected as the 2016 Volunteer of the Year. In addition to spending time with her family and two grandchildren ages 5 and 7, her hobbies are kayaking, hiking, biking, walking, swimming and going to the beach.