Ruth Robertson's father was a distinguished physician and a
great-aunt had been a missionary to China. At the age of ten, young Ruth
decided to combine both careers, and at 14 she left Clayton, Alabama for Judson
College in Marion. Transferring the following year to the University of
Alabama, she became the second woman to graduate from the two-year Alabama
Medical College. There she met Ivan Berrey, a young doctor and professor. After
receiving her M.D. at age 22 from Tulane University, she and Ivan were married
in the home of Dr. Louis Bristow, a minister and the head of the New Orleans
Ivan completed his residency at the university
of Chicago and Ruth interned at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. Then a group
of doctors in Kansas invited Ivan to join their clinic. When the two Berreys
arrived, the clinic and town would have no part in accepting a woman doctor.
The young doctors packed their bags and moved to Birmingham. In 1929, Dr. Ruth
Berrey entered the practice of pediatrics, across the hall from her husband's
Over the years she earned positions as medical supervisor under the
National Youth Administration; consultant to the Jefferson County Board of
Health; assistant professor at Howard College (now Samford University); and
associate professor at the University of Alabama.
In 1956, Dr. Ivan Berrey died. Dr. Ruth Berrey then began her various
tours of duty as a medical missionary to Nigeria, where she saw 200 children
daily five days a week. In both West Africa and the United States, she became
known for her outstanding achievements in treatment of children's diseases and
nutrition. She particularly fostered the use of a nutritious bean to supply
protein in a land where the tse tse fly prevents the raising of cattle for
beef. Following a heart attack that forced her to return to the States, Dr.
Berrey served as county health officer in Barbour, Macon, and Bullock counties
until her death.
Dr. Berrey was a diplomat of the American Board of Pediatrics, a fellow
member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a member of Chi Omega
Sorority and Zonta. During her lifetime she was president of the Children's
Hospital in Birmingham, president of the Alabama Pediatric Society, and
recipient of the Outstanding Alumnae Award at Judson College. She was listed in
the Who's Who of American Women and Who's Who in Alabama.