2023 Black & Gold Award
Ruth L. Fairbank 1937 Well before girls were allowed to participate in high school and even collegiate athletics, Ruth Fairbank became a legend in her own time. Ruth was prodigious in everything she participated in which included softball, basketball, and later, tennis. Participating in club basketball, Ruth was named an All-American in 1935. She was also a multi-time All-Star softball player. While attending Washburn University, Ruth continued to play on softball and basketball teams sponsored by local businesses such as Capper’s, Ed Marling’s, and the Sante Fe., playing well into her 30’s. As a softball player, her teams won multiple State Championships and participated in the National Championship Tournament. Later, Ruth added the game of tennis to her many achievements. As a tennis player, Ruth won multiple City Championship Titles in Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. Ruth would become a major contributor in establishing tennis as a flourishing sport in Topeka. Amazingly, Ruth was able to participate in all these sports while also working for Sante Fe Railway after graduating from WU. She worked for Sante Fe for 40 years. Ultimately, Ruth was a pioneer in the Topeka community in embracing and celebrating women in sports.