Ruth Bakke of Burlington, Washington, age 94, went to be with the Lord on February 10, 2013. Ruth was a very special person and a much loved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. With the help of wonderful caregivers and Hospice, Ruth had stayed in the home she built on Burlington Hill until her death.
Ruth was born to Norwegian immigrants Gerhart and Sigrid Gunderson on March 16, 1918 in Frog Lake, Alberta, Canada. As the seventh of ten children she learned how to work hard on the family farm. It was there that Ruth developed the generous and loving spirit for which she has always been known.
At age 17 Ruth followed her parents and younger sisters to Whatcom County where she attended Meridian High School. On January 29, 1938 she married Aadne Bakke and moved to the Bakke farm in the Acme area. It was on this farm that she and Aadne raised their six children. She actively supported Mt. Baker High School and was pictured in a Saturday Evening Post article on parents who held a Scandinavian smorgasbord each year to raise funds for the band's highlander uniforms.
Ruth was a musician, often picking up fiddle, harmonica or accordion to play an old tune or gospel song. She was famous for cooking pancake breakfasts over a campfire in Saxon on the South Fork of the Nooksack River. Ruth's passion was cooking for people who loved to eat.
In 1960 the Bakkes moved to Skagit County where they operated several restaurants during the 60's and 70's. Those included Bakke's Cafe in Burlington (known for an outstanding Scandinavian smorgasbord), Nordic Inn in LaConner, Freedom Inn in Mt. Vernon and Marysville Cattle Auction Cafe. At each of these establishments Ruth's generous spirit shined as she developed lifelong relationships with her patrons, including the colorful characters of 70's era LaConner.
In 1977 Ruth began a successful second career as a realtor, retiring at the age of 89. As a realtor she was well loved and received many awards for high sales. The 80's were a difficult time. Death claimed her husband of 51 years, Aadne Bakke. He had been a wonderful companion to her and a partner in both her careers. Ruth also lost her daughter Kaye Doughty, great-granddaughter Kaitlyn Peacock, and several of her siblings.
More than anything, Ruth was known throughout Skagit County for her cooking and bread making. She often gifted her clients with a loaf of bread baked that same morning. In the early days of her restaurant career she catered dinners for as many as 600 people. At age 90 she hosted weekly dinners at her home for family, friends, clients and whoever happened by.
Ruth and Aadne were founding members of the Burlington Alliance Church and enthusiastically supported it as well as mission work around the world. They made three trips to Africa to visit their son Gordon, his wife Elaine and their family who were serving as missionaries in Zambia. They also loved to visit family in Norway and Canada.
Ruth and Aadne's surviving children include son Gordon (Elaine) Bakke of Conway; daughters Sharon (Jerry) Benson of Bow, Sandi (Bill) Riley of Burlington, Kit (John) LaMonte of Acme and Terri (Charlie) Bakke-Schultz of Anacortes. She was very proud of her thirteen grandchildren; Janice Bakke, Greg Bakke, Sarah Knudsen, Erik Benson, Bryan Benson, Dr. David Benson, Jason Benson, Danette Peacock, Merideth Hansen, Mike Doughty, Kim Lee, Tiffany LaMonte and Melissa Anderson as well as her twenty great-grandchildren. Ruth outlived nine brothers and sisters. She was called "Aunty Ruth" by over one hundred nieces, nephews, grand nieces and grand nephews.
Ruth's family want to extend special thanks to care givers Joy Woody, Ashley Carpenter and Barbara Riley as well as Nurse Jenny and those who helped through Hospice.
Friends who would like to celebrate Ruth's life with the family are invited to join them at Bethany Covenant Church at 1318 S. 18th, Mt. Vernon, Washington on Wednesday, February 20 at 1:00 pm. The burial will follow at the Saxon Cemetery, Doran Rd. near Acme. A memorial gathering will be held after the burial at the home of Kit and John LaMonte in Saxon.
Memorials can be made to MATA (Mission Aviation Training Academy), P.O. Box 3655, Arlington, WA, 98223, Burlington Alliance Church or Hospice of Skagit County.