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Jean (Smith)?Ruehle 1925-2014

March 13, 2014
Emmetsburg News

RUTHVEN -- Funral servcie for Jean (Smith) Ruehle will be held at 10:30 am. Saturday, March 15, at Zion Lutheran Church in Ruthven. The Rev. Tom Summerfield will officiate.

Interment will be in Crown Hill Cemetery, Ruthven. The Martin-Mattice Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Visitation will be Friday March 14, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Martin-Mattice Funeral Home in Ruthven.

In lieu of flowers and funeral memorials, the family asks that you celebrate Jean's legacy of hospitality by making a donation to Helping Hands Food Pantry & Resource Center run by volunteers from Ruthven Zion Lutheran Church located at 1901 Rolling Street, Ruthven, IA 51358. Donations can be made either by check (payable to Zion Lutheran Church) or by nonperishable food. "Blessed are those who help the poor." Proverbs 14:21

On Saturday, March 8, 2014 an amazing thing happened: after 32,187 days on earth angels carried Jean Ruehle's soul to heaven, where she will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Jean first drank from the Lord's cup of salvation at age 21 when she was baptized at Ruthven's Zion Lutheran Church, with family and friends as witnesses. Jean is now in a better place, where God has wiped every tear from her eyes.

Jean's indomitable spirit was chiseled out of the great depression. Her large family was poor, but clothed in dignity, never hungry due to a strong work ethic and always content with God's daily provision. Jean was humble, never complained and had a servant's heart. Daughter of A.C. and Opal (Watkins) Smith, she was born on a farm near Dickens, on Nov. 13, 1925. Jean proudly claimed Dickens as her hometown, where she lived during the town's glory days, graduated from high school and loved playing basketball. Dickens has lost one of its most enthusiastic ambassadors!

Jean was the last Smith standing in a family blessed with 14 children. Incredibly, Opal gave birth to three sets of twins, including Jean's twin brother Dean who was the apple of her eye. When the subject of her family came up, Jean often remarked with a wry smile and twinkle in her eyes: "Can you imagine that, three sets of twins?" No Jean, we can't! Jean loved 'being a Smith' and the best compliment she gave to her sons or grandchildren was "That's the Smith in you." These blessings are now family treasures.

As a young adult Jean worked many different jobs, including Carol's Bakery in Spencer, as a nanny in Chicago and she even helped build battleships during WWII in the Seattle-Tacoma shipyards. She also attended Broadlawns Nursing School in Des Moines, but didn't finish since she was needed at home. Jean's path in life then crossed that of a tall, lanky farm boy, whose family lived on Lost Island Lake.

Jean's sister Thelma lived near the Ruehle farm located on the shores of Lost Island Lake. The oldest son Bruce had recently returned home after serving his country as a navy CB in Saipan. With Thelma playing the matchmaker, Jean and Bruce first met at Electric Park, a popular dancehall on the south lakeshore. One interest they both shared was dancing, and they fell in love twirling around the dance floor. They soon became best friends, then husband and wife on Oct. 21, 1947 and were inseparable for 61 years. When asked once why she married Bruce, Jean replied "Bruce was the kindest man I ever knew." Bruce passed away in 2008. After five years they are together again, to have and to hold, for eternity.

Jean is the loving mother of five sons: David (Marilyn) and Gary Ruehle of Ruthven; Michael (Kerry) of Sioux City; Dean (Mary) of Plano, TX and Bob (Leanne) of Loveland, CO. Jean often joked how she kept trying for a girl, but after five boys decided to give up. Her youngest is grateful his name isn't Kathy.

Jean and Bruce raised their family on various farms surrounding Ruthven. Every day Jean was the first one up and last to bed, as she cooked meals, cleaned clothes, transported kids to school activities and did chores while Bruce worked in the fields. Money from milking the cows was hers to keep, although Jean rarely spent money on herself. Ruehle farmhands fortunate enough to bail hay, harvest crops, pick rock, walk beans, shell corn or anything else requiring a strong back still have fond memories of Jean's fried chicken, cakes, pies served with a smile and sharp wit. This woman could cook!

Jean enjoyed the farm lifestyle and her neighbors, who made their own fun: pushing back the furniture to dance; setting up folding tables to play cards; going bowling during the winter months. She also loved to visit family in Sydney, IA (to attend the rodeo) or Berthoud, CO (to tour the Rocky Mountains). Later in life, Jean loved travelling with Bruce to Mexico, Las Vegas, Tucson, etc., with family and friends.

At last count, Jean is grandmother and great grandmother to 34 children. She loves them equally and treasured spending time with them at a family picnic, fish fry, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday or reunion. Jean and Bruce loved fishing with the grandkids, sitting on a bucket and watching the thrill of reeling in a flopping bullhead. Jean was especially proud of her bag of silver dollars from Vegas which she brought out at family holidays to play card games of Skiddy. Jean and Bruce are no doubt back to playing gin rummy together.

Many of the precious moments during Jean's lifetime are captured in photo albums, which her family and friends never get tired of flipping through and reliving the memories. Jean's favorite picture hung in her nursing home room. It's three, stacked pictures of her five sons, taken twenty years apart. She often commented how she "raised her boys the best she could". Her sons cannot think of anyone who could have done it any better than their mother. Jean's son Mike was already waiting for his mom in heaven.

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