Santa Fe Living Treasures â€“ Elder Stories
Honored June, 2010
Theodora 'Theo' Ruthling Raven
Theo Raven is still a child at heart. Step inside the magical world of Doodletâ€™s, her downtown business, to experience pure whimsy and delight. Toys wiggle and yodel, hand puppets come alive, and funny cards and childrenâ€™s books amuse. With her signature single braid, Theo will be there, engaged with the children (of all ages), and greeting their animals. Her delight, she says, is in the delight of others.
Doodletâ€™s originally opened 55 years ago, with both Theo and her mother running the business. She has been involved with the business most of her life, except for a decade when she lived in Seattle with her husband Peter Raven.
Doodlet is the nickname given to baby Theo by Will Shuster, family friend and early Santa Fe artist. Theoâ€™s mother was called Doodles, so her first-born became known as Doodlet.
Theo still lives in her childhood home in Tesuque. She recalls life with farm animals, apple orchards, and her extended familyâ€”which grew to include the children her mother cared for on the New Mexico childrenâ€™s ranch celebrated in a 1953 television episode of Ralph Edwardsâ€™ â€śThis is Your Life.â€ť
Theo, sometimes called the â€śunofficial greeter of Santa Fe,â€ť is very committed to her community, supporting education for Santa Feâ€™s youth. She champions organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Assistance Dogs of the West, and the regionâ€™s animal shelters. In 2008, she won an Historic Preservation Award for her successful renovation of the building (at Don Gaspar and Water Streets) that houses Doodletâ€™s, dating from 1870.
Theo has a multitude of friends who regard her as â€śan artist of the soul,â€ť and an integral part of this communityâ€™s history. â€śTheoâ€™s life has been devoted to lifting the spirits of everyone she encounters. She is of this land and itâ€™s all the better for her being in the world.â€ť And, her dogs say grace before eating!
Katherine Kagel, owner of CafĂ© Pasqualâ€™s, says, â€śTheo is one individual in this town who has been working for 50 years for the joyful benefit of her neighbors.â€ť
But donâ€™t call Theo a role model, she insists. She once declined the honor of Living Treasure because â€śothers are more deserving.â€ť Today we are pleased to honor Theodora Doodlet Tesuque Ruthling Raven.
Story by Barbara Harrelson
Photo Â© 2010 by Genevieve Russell