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Santa Rosa woman recalls John F. Kennedy's killer

  • Ruth Paine stands by the willow tree by her home at the Friends House in Santa Rosa on Thursday, September 5, 2013. Paine had Lee Harvey Oswald's wife and children living at her home in Dallas at the time of John F. Kennedy's assassination. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

In 1963, Ruth Hyde Paine lived west of Dallas with her two small children and shared their home with a young, Russian-speaking mother whose here-again there-again husband — Lee Harvey Oswald — caused her to question the sort of man he was.

But Paine, now 81 and a retired teacher and school psychologist in Santa Rosa, says she had no reason to suspect that Oswald was a potential assassin. And she's maintained for 50 years that she will forever regret not knowing that he had a rifle concealed in a blanket in her garage.

On Nov. 21, 1963, Oswald spent his last night ever with his wife, Marina, and their two children in Paine's simple ranch house in suburban Irving, Texas. At the time, no one was closer to the Oswald family than Paine, then 31.

Amicably separated from her husband, Paine relished having Marina room with her while Lee Oswald stayed during the work week about 20 miles away at a boarding house in Dallas. There, Oswald worked at the new job Paine helped him secure at the city's multi-story School Book Depository.

History remembers Paine, a tall and learned lifelong Quaker, as Marina Oswald's sister-like friend and housemate, and as the woman who was helpful to the villain — or patsy, many would say — in America's most debated national tragedy: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

She doesn't enjoy talking about it. “It always raises residual grief for me,” she said. But when asked, Paine will speak of the assassination and her intimacy with the Oswalds. She will tell her story Friday in a public presentation to the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

C-SPAN will be there. The national cable news outlet intends to air Paine's address on its “American Perspective” program that features political forums, town hall meetings, lecture series and other important exchanges of ideas and information around the country.

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