Celebrating Magnificence: Pulelehua Ruth Marie Quirk – Friend of Humanity
by Renée Tillotson
Born in Massachusetts in the 1950s, sixth in a Catholic family of seven children, Ruth Marie moved continuously until finally landing in Hawaii for graduate school, where she has happily lived ever since, adopting her Hawaiian name of Pulelehua given to her by Pir Moineddin, a Sufi on Maui.
One of her family’s many moves brought them to South Carolina, where her father’s job was to integrate an all-white electrical company. Even though Jim Crow laws had been removed, the family was surprised to see a few “Whites Only” signs. When they searched for a house to rent, and the landlords learned about her father’s job and that their family was Catholic, landlords refused to rent to them. The family moved from trailers to a convent, until they managed to rent a house in a larger town.
Naturally friendly, Ruth Marie soon invited a number of new acquaintances to their home for a party, including one black girl. No one showed up for the event except her black friend. After that day they were evicted from the house, but not before a group of white supremacists burned a cross into their lawn.
Unwavering, Pulelehua has continued to maintain friendships with folks of any color ever since. She also developed a heart for standing up for what she believes is right and just. As an undergraduate at UC San Diego, she was so disturbed by the killing her country was doing in Viet Nam, she led a protest against the US military coming to the college campus to conscript soldiers from amongst the students. She regularly demonstrates and advocates for women’s rights, equity and social justice for all.
Pulelehua first came to the islands together with her mother for both of them to attend graduate school at UH Manoa in 1979. Within her 30 years of her subsequent employment there, Pule headed up the enormous project of putting the entire library system of the University of Hawaii online. They began by designing their own software system to pull off the task. She continued to take courses and completed a Masterʻs in Educational Technology. She calls herself a “nerd” – the rest of us would probably call her a genius!
Now a devoted hula student of Kumu Malia at Still & Moving Center, Pulelehua has danced her entire life – even through the grocery stores as a little child! She began sharing Sacred Dance in 1991, with the Sacred Dance Guild, which she has done ever since with dancers from around the world, and which drew her to her church at Calvary By the Sea, where she also dances and leads sacred embodiment of prayer, including: labyrinth walks, liturgical dance, and a welcoming prayer.
She conducts moving meditation workshops with groups including Hospice, youth groups, women’s groups, church communities and educational groups. “We are dancing for healing, dancing for life, dancing to stay grounded. We dance to embody the spirit we are intended to be,” enthuses Pule.
Most recently, Pule took Brain Dance teacher training in 2016 and currently leads online classes, to which EVERYONE is invited!
Most recently, Pulelehua took a BrainDance teacher training from the creator Ann Green Gilbert in 2016 and currently leads online classes in Mindful BrainDance, to which EVERYONE is invited Wednesdays 10am HST on Zoom! mindful-braindance.com