“If only I had known that Lee Harvey Oswald had hidden a rifle in my garage,” Ruth Paine told the Warren Commission during its investigation of the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. “If only, quite by accident, I had done or not done a dozen things, the country might have been spared the tragedy.”
Paine, who unwittingly provided shelter and assistance to Oswald in the months prior the president’s murder in Dallas, makes a rare public appearance September 13 in Sonoma.
Paine will address “The JFK Assassination 50 Years Later: My Window on the Oswalds” in a presentation sponsored by The Sonoma Valley Historical Society at 2 p.m. at 574 First St. E. in Sonoma. A donation of $5 is suggested for society members and $10 for non-members.
Now a resident of Sonoma County, Paine helped Oswald land a job at the Texas School Book Depository, the spot from which bullets were fired into the Kennedy motorcade. Oswald and his family stayed at her home the night before the president was killed. Oswald, identified in the Warren Report as the lone gunman, hid the rifle later identified as the weapon used to kill the president in Paine’s garage.
After his arrest, Oswald called Paine’s house seeking his wife and the assistance of a lawyer. Eventually, Paine became one of the Warren Commission’s most important witnesses and provided its most extensive testimony.
“If only I had appraised this man as someone able to do such terrible violence,” said Paine, who will take questions during her Sonoma event.