A lifelong resident of Crowley, Ruthie is the daughter of the late Martin and Billie Welch. She is a 1980 graduate of Notre Dame High School and an alumnus of the University of Southwestern Louisiana where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology with a minor in Chemistry. Ruthie is married to Gilles Piron of Vaux Sur Sure Belgium and together they have two sons, Alexander and Andrew.

At an early age, Ruthie was passionate for the sport of gymnastics, sharing her love by performing for thirteen years at the International Rice Festival Senior Citizen’s Ball as well as during festival weekend. She was selected as Performer of the Year during the late 70’s. Ruthie was also a member of the International Rice Festival Dance Troup, the Ricettes and joined the “Reunion Team” back in 2003-2004. She was also chosen as the 1980 Miss Crowley and served as an ambassador to the Rice Capital of America.

With a love for gymnastics, Ruthie began her first gymnastic school, “Rice City Gymnastics” with a few mats and a single balance beam in a little church hall in 1980. Teaching children from the age of two through adult, her program grew adding a gymnastics team which brought home eight individual All-Around State Titles. Many of her performers, including her tumbling exhibition group, the “Gymsations”, provided entertainment for the Rice Festival in past years. Ruthie made the hard decision to close her gymnastics school in the year 2000 to focus on her young family.

In 2013, Ruthie reopened Rice City Gymnastics, sharing her passion with her two sons and many former students. In just five short years, the Rice City Competition Teams have been awarded twelve State Championship Team Titles and three State Runner-Up Team Titles. In addition, the competitive gymnasts have won forty-seven Individual All-Around State Championship Titles. In 2016, the Rice City Competitive Cheer Team qualified for nationals and traveled to Destin, Florida for Nationals where they brought home second place out of thirty-seven teams.

Ruthie’s hobbies include gardening and decorating her home during the holidays. She won the Designer’s Choice for the Door Decorating Contest for the 2010 Rice Festival. Her favorite hobby is teaching the art of gymnastics.

Since 1990, Ruthie has volunteered for the Rice Festival, working with the Junior Rice Festival King and Queens Contest, the Main Stage Crew and many more.

“When approached by the festival with this honor, I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement. The children of this city, whether they have walked through the doors of my gym or not, hold a special place in my heart. In disbelief of being selected, I am forever grateful and look forward to this experience.”