Ruth Angeline Russell, the daughter of Frank and Etta Hoffman Henry Janes was born on December 21st, 1921 in Mapleton, Iowa. After her father's death when Ruth was 6, her mom ran a restaurant in Mapleton. Ruth had to sit at the end of the counter and be quiet, so she read, and she passed her love of reading down her children years later. Around Ruth's 13th birthday, her mother was diagnosed with cancer and died a couple months later. For the remainder of her school years, Ruth lived with her Aunt Lora and her family in Mapleton during the school year, and near Galva with Lily and Earl Compton, a second cousin, on school breaks and in the summer. She went to 4H and at a meeting she first saw Ed Russell, the brother of a fellow 4-H member. She would marry him years later.
After graduation, Ruth went to Business School in Sioux City and got a job at Ida Grove working for IPS. In April of 1948, Ed gave her a ride home and asked her out and they married September 8th that same year. They went to see Ed's brother Don Russell in Wichita, Texas for their honeymoon. 60 some years later, Don admired and thought the world of his sister-in-law. "She was so plucky," he said. "She always made the best of everything. She had spunk."
In 1950, they had Raymond, followed by Marilyn (Mindy), and then Tom. By the time Andy came along Ruth had her hands full. They were living in a house with a hand pump in the kitchen and an outhouse out back. She had a Maytag wringer washer, a copper boiler to heat water, a huge garden, three older kids & a newborn. Whew! Years later, all the kids came down, one by one, with the mumps. She didn't get to town for a month. Life went on. The kids grew up and Ed's health deteriorated, so she got a job to support her family at Superior (Witco) and they moved into Spencer. In 1979 they bought a humble little house when her first grandchild was 6 weeks old. Finally, she was able to retire in 1985. Ruth continued to live with her son Raymond after Ed died in 2003. After falling a couple times, she moved to Northshire in 2015. She died peacefully in her sleep March 24th, 2020 at age 98.
Ruth always stayed busy doing handwork. She made her kids clothes, made crocheted rag rugs, afghans, doilies, numerous rosaries & so many quilts she lost track. All her children and grandchildren have at least one quilt and afghan from Grandma. Ruth was active in a number of organizations, including Rosary Makers, Catholic Daughters, Tops, and the Knit for Kids program, churning out scads of sweaters for children around the world.
Ruth was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Edward in 2003, her son Raymond in October of 2019, her half-brother Herbert Henry and her brother-in-law Don Russell and his wife Esther.
Left to cherish her memory are her daughter, Mindy "Marilyn" Means (Kent) of Royal, Iowa; her sons: Tom (Colleen) Russell of Ida Grove, Iowa and Andrew (Kristi) Russell at Spencer, Iowa; her grandchildren: Luke (Amanda) Russell, Will (Heather) Russell, Shawn (Jessie) Russell, Ryan Russell, Sarah Russell, Josh Izer, Jamie Shanks, Hans (Beth) Greenwald, 8 great-grandkids, Barbara Pettit Smith (Ruth's "other" daughter,) her former daughter-in-law Monica Izer, sisters-in-law June Hultgren and Rita Russell, other relatives and many, many friends.
225 West 3rd Street • Spencer, IA 51301 • 712-262-3640 • Fax 712-262-1618