It was probably the hottest Aug. 24 of the 20th century when Ruth Leora Peterson came into this world at the family farm east of Emmett, Idaho, with Dr. Robert Newton Cummings in attendance. Some may remember Dr. Cummings as the former owner of the Plaza Fruit Ranch.
Ruth grew up during the depression years. Her mom, Irene, always had a large garden and fruit trees and they also had cows and chickens so there was always plenty to eat. Ruth's dad, Johann "John" Peterson, worked at Boise Payette Lumber Company and farmed.
Ruth rode the school bus, attending school at the old Wardwell School located where the library, Home Federal, US Bank and the Catholic Church parking lot are now. When she was ready for high school, it was not considered "necessary" to have a high school education so she was not allowed to ride the bus to school anymore. Ruth picked fruit to earn enough money to buy her books and school supplies. Girls were only allowed to wear dresses to school, so in the winter it was pretty cold walking the mile and a half down the railroad tracks! Ruth wore jeans under her skirt and then took them off at school and hung them under her coat.
It was during high school that Ruth noticed a tall skinny blue-eyed guy. Oh, dear … it was love at first sight! His family lived too far out of town for him to attend school, so he stayed with Walter and Carrie Knox during the school year.
After high school, Ruth attended Boise Business College, then took a job as deputy auditor and spent the summer figuring the property taxes for Gem County residents.
In 1944, the Saturday afternoon matinée cost 10¢. On Oct. 18 of that year, Ruth married her high school sweetheart, that tall skinny blue-eyed guy named Don and retired to the job of farmer's wife and mother of five wonderful children – Donald Eugene Jr., Eric Randy, Gwendolyn Jane, Judy Marlene and Jill Loree.
Ruth and Don eventually owned and operated a Grade A Dairy northeast of Emmett. Ruth enjoyed feeding baby calves, keeping the farm accounts, cooking for hired help, sewing for herself and her family, raising a garden and preserving fruit and vegetables. Many people have said the best meal they ever ate was sitting around Ruth's table.
Ruth was active in the United Methodist Church, teaching Sunday School for 17 years and served one term as president of the Women's Circle. She was also a Cub Scout leader, 4-H club leader and a charter member and chairwoman one year, of the Extension Homemaker's Club. Ruth was a member of the Iras Chapter of Daughters of the Nile and an active member of the Electa Chapter #22 Order of Eastern Star serving two different terms as Worthy Matron as well as many other stations.
Ruth eventually fulfilled two long-time desires of her life. In 1995, she and Don traveled to Sweden and were able to see the farm where her Dad grew up, visit many relatives and saw other places of interest. They also toured through France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, rode gondolas in Venice and travelled Italy as far as Rome. In 2009, they traveled to New York City and visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where her Dad arrived in 1911 when he immigrated to America.
Ruth passed away on Saturday July 6, 2013. She is preceded in death by her beloved daughter Judy Marlene Sanders; her parents John and Irene Peterson; her sister Lois Sophia Peterson; three infant brothers and one infant sister; four sisters-in-law; three brothers-in-law; one great-uncle; and one great-granddaughter.
Ruth is survived by her husband of nearly 69 years, Donald Sr.; son Donald Eugene Jr. and his wife Melanie; grandson Donald III and wife Denise and great-grandson Brian; granddaughter Kimberly Swan and her husband Tom and great-grandson Jordan Whiteley; granddaughter Katrina Barnes and husband Bryan and great-grandchildren Estella, Brianna, Kendra and Michael Woods and Rylend and Inyca Barnes; son Eric Randy and his wife Kathy; granddaughter Tammy Bias, great-grandson Ezra Bias, great-great-granddaughters Emma, Hailey, Genevieve, and Leighla; granddaughter Emily Hoffman and her husband Barent, great-grandchildren Naomi, Eleanor and Harrison; granddaughter Kady Poole and her husband Bryan; grandson David Cutbirth and his wife Joyce, great-grandchildren Hannah and Philip; daughter Gwendolyn Pughes and her husband Michael; grandson Greg Nyland, great-grandchildren Tiana Nyland, Carl Silva, great-great-grandsons Trevin and Keegan Silva, great-grandson Kane Silva, great-granddaughter Tiffany Silva, great-great-grandsons Isaiah, Josiah and Carter; granddaughter Kristen Moore and her husband Steve; great-grandchildren Remington Heathcoat and Brody Moore; granddaughter Jennifer Nyland; grandson Sean Pughes and his wife Ashley, great-granddaughter Lexi; granddaughter Stina Clements Van Dam and her husband Jason, great-grandchildren Parker and Thorin Van Dam; granddaughter Amy Sanders Langton and her husband Cody; daughter Jill Linder and her husband Chris; grandson Jason Bigelow and his wife Chantel and great-granddaughter Teagan.
Ruth is also survived by her sister Elin Christina Mianecki and husband Frank of Washington State, brother Robert Peterson and wife Geraldine of Arizona, brother Roger "Pete" Peterson of Middleton, Idaho and wife Allyne, brothers-in-law Harry "Jack" Cutbirth and wife Laurel, William "Bill" Cutbirth and wife Donna, sisters-in-law Dorothy Cutbirth and Betty Tyler and many loving nieces and nephews too numerous to list.
The family would like to extend special thanks to XL Hospice, especially Brock, Alisa, Susan and Nicole.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 12, 2013, at the Potter Funeral Chapel, 228 E. Main St., Emmett. Visitation will be held on Thursday from 3 until 8 p.m. at the Chapel. Interment will follow at the Emmett Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Ronald McDonald House or the Shriner's Children's Hospital.