Virginia Patton, known as Ruth Dakin Bailey in the classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” has died at the age of 97.
Patton passed away on Thursday at an assisted living facility in Albany, Georgia, according to Matthews Funeral Home.
“We have another angel! Virginia Patton Moss. She was 97 years old,” co-star and former child actor Karolyn “Zuzu” Grimes wrote in a Facebook post. “She is now with her beloved Cruse. She will be missed!”
Patton was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1925 and raised in Portland, Oregon. The actress was most famous for appearing in Frank Capra’s classic 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” She played Ruth Bailey, the sister-in-law of James Stewart’s character George Bailey.
The actress was also the niece of the World War II Gen. George Patton. She went on to star in additional films, including “The Burning Cross” and “Black Eagle.”
Patton married Cruse Moss in 1949, retiring from the big screen and moving to Michigan where they raised three children. The couple remained married for 69 years until Cruse’s death in 2018.
According to the obituary provided by her family, she received her education from the University of Southern California and the University of Michigan. Patton also received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Cleary College in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The funeral home’s announcement emphasized Patton’s focus on faith and family throughout her lifetime.
“Virginia touched so many lives with her gifts of kindness and grace. She will always be remembered for her warm hugs, her zest for life, her elegance, and her deep faith in God. Virginia’s presence made any gathering extra special, and her passion for family and friends was immeasurable,” the announcement from the funeral home read.
Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” also shared words of loss regarding Patton in a statement on Sunday.
“We mourn the loss of another cast member,” Grimes said. “A few years ago, I got to visit Virginia in her home, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her husband, [automotive executive] Cruse [W. Moss] took me on a tour of the grounds. She was an artist and a history buff. She and her husband had stunning collections of artifacts of history from all over the world. She was always proud that she got to work with Frank Capra.”
In a 2012 interview, Patton reflected on her role in the iconic holiday film.
“I have a beautiful letter that [Capra] wrote me because I kept in touch with him and he said, ‘I just knew you’d be a wonderful mother with three little bambinos and a wonderful husband,'” Patton said. “I couldn’t see me doing that for my life. That isn’t what I wanted. I wanted exactly what I am. Ann Arbor, Michigan, a wonderful husband, wonderful children, a good part of the community. I work hard for the community.”
Patton is survived by two children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.