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1977 Horatio Alger Award Winner

Ruth Stafford Peale*

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Christian Living
Co-Founder, Peale Center

"Real joy comes from doing things for others."

Ruth Stafford Peale was born in 1906 in Fonda, Iowa, where her father was a Methodist minister. Later they moved to Detroit, where Peale took her first job at the age of 14. She worked at the ribbon counter in a department store and earned $11 a week. She excelled in her job after listening to and following her father's advice. He told her, "It pays to be patient and kind, no matter how unfair life may seem to be at the time."

During her senior year in high school, Peale was the vice president of her class. She graduated in 1922, and then attended Detroit's City College for one year. Although she wanted to continue, she agreed to leave school and work full time so that she could help finance her older brother's education. She went to work for the Michigan Bell Telephone Company and then returned to school in 1926. At that time, her younger brother worked to help put her through school. She graduated from Syracuse University in 1928 with a degree in math. She taught school for a time, but ended that career when she married Norman Vincent Peale in 1930. They moved to New York City two years later, where Dr. Peale was the senior minister at the Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue.

In six decades of marriage and ministry, the Peale partnership communicated its message of the power of Christian faith and positive thinking to millions of people worldwide. The author of The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale became one of the foremost ministers and motivational speakers and writers of the 20th century. Ruth Peale worked closely with her husband in all aspects of his ministry, and also established a separate identity as a religious leader, public speaker, and author. She is the co-founder, publisher, and chairman emeritus of Guideposts, a spiritual magazine Mrs. Peale started so that her husband's sermons could be shared with those outside his congregation. Today, Guideposts publishes six magazines, including Angels on Earth and Miracles and Healing. In 1990, the Peale Center was established and later merged with Guideposts to form A Church Corporation, with the Peale Center serving as the outreach division.

Ruth Peale is the author of Secrets of Staying in Love (1984) and A Lifetime of Positive Thinking (2001), her memoirs. She says, "My entire life has been devoted to helping people find a richer, fuller life for themselves and their families. It has been a privilege to write and speak about discovering that God is ever-present in our lives. He brings spiritual strength to all of us. The motivation I have received from Horatio Alger participants has been a blessing to me."

* Deceased