Ruth King Garrett was born on May 31, 1923, in Greensboro, North Carolina. After graduating from Rankin High School, she briefly attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Inspired by a health course at the university, she began nurses’ training at Saint Leo’s Hospital in the city and graduated from the program in 1944. She then worked at a polio hospital in Hickory, North Carolina.
Garrett joined the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) on January 31, 1945 and was sent to Fort Rucker, Alabama, for basic training. She was then sent to Battey General Hospital in Rome, Georgia, where she stayed for five months. In summer of 1945 she was assigned to overseas duty and traveled to California to meet the USS Comfort, which arrived in Manila, Philippines in August 1945. While in Manila, Garrett treated recently released U.S. prisoners of war and other wounded soldiers in temporary hospital units. She returned to the U.S. on February 1, 1946 and was discharged from the ANC on March 15, 1946.
Garrett returned to Greensboro and worked at LeBauers Healthcare for a few months before moving to Fayetteville, North Carolina, to work at the Veterans Affairs [VA] Medical Center. A year later she returned to Greensboro and married Clifford Garrett, an army veteran, on 27 July 1947. They had three children together, one of whom became a nurse. Garrett retired from nursing in the mid-1980s.