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Ruth A. Stone

1921 - 2020
Ruth A. Stone

West Des Moines - Ruth Ann Smith was born on December 6, 1921 on a farm near the tiny town of Waubeek in Linn County, Iowa. She died on March 19, 2020 due to complications from pneumonia. She was 98 years old.

Ruth's father was a farm laborer with a fourth grade education; her mother was a Quaker and a teacher. She was the seventh born of nine children. After attending five different elementary schools all over Cedar Rapids, Ruth at the age of 14 saw most of her family move to California in the midst of the Great Depression. She stayed behind, working in a Cedar Rapids boarding house for two dollars a week while she finished high school.

In 1940, she made her way to California by selling magazine subscriptions from town to town. In 1941, she woke on the morning after her 20th birthday to learn of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

During the war years, she worked mostly in San Francisco for the Southern Pacific Railroad. For a time, she and some girlfriends moved to Los Angeles to work the night shift in a munitions factory. It turned out that the famous singer Nat King Cole owned the club next to their apartment, and they would often eat breakfast with his band. In addition, Ruth worked for a time as a hostess and elevator operator at a popular dinner theatre, where she escorted the likes of Bing Crosby, Mae West and Danny Kaye.

It was at this time that Ruth began a lifetime of political involvement. She volunteered on Richard Nixon's first house campaign in 1946, and became acquainted with Pat Nixon, his wife. She spent most of her life as a liberal Republican, serving for years as a "committee woman" for the GOP. In her final decades, she became disillusioned with the party, and consistently supported Democrats. Her final political act was to caucus for Elizabeth Warren a few weeks before her death.

In 1950, she met her future husband while on a blind date with her sister. In less than a year, she was married to Archie Stone and living back in Iowa. She and Archie, who worked for Wallace's Farmer magazine, were married 64 years while raising three boys in West Des Moines.

In addition to taking care of her family, Ruth was also committed to taking care of her community. In 1957, she and her family joined St. Mark's Lutheran Church, where she served on the church council and regularly attended services for over sixty years. She was active in the WDM Women's Club. She drove older ladies to appointments, delivered Meals on Wheels, and helped immigrants adapt to Iowa as a volunteer for Lutheran Social Services. She was also a voracious reader throughout her life, reading as many as five books a week right up to the time of her passing.

Ruth Stone was the final surviving member of her generation in both the Smith and Stone families: the last of 26 siblings and spouses. She is survived by her sons, Jeff (Pam), Scott (Terri) and Ben (Marilyn), all of West Des Moines; six grandchildren: Korley Westvold (Jason), Bailey, Justine, Thomas, Hope & Nate; and two great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by a grandchild, Gavin, and her beloved husband, Archie.

In a 2017 video interview Ruth Stone summed up her philosophy of life: "Appreciate people. Appreciate all those that you know and find good in everybody. Because there is good in everyone."

A Celebration of Life service will be held at a later time. Memorial contributions can be made to the Friends of Walnut Woods State Park Inc., 1565 S. E. Walnut Woods Drive, West Des Moines, Iowa 50265. Please visit for future updates and online condolences for the Stone family.
Published in Des Moines Register from Mar. 26 to Mar. 29, 2020
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