NEWPORT - Mrs. Ruth Helen McGaughey, 93, of Newport departed this life Monday, July 5, 2021, at Mercy Hospital in Rogers.
She was the daughter of the late Harvey Nelson and Agnes Griffin Nelson and was born April 1, 1928, in Lunsford.
Having been advanced academically during her early grades, Ruth graduated from Dixie High School in 1944 at the age of 16. She then moved from home to a boarding house in Jonesboro after landing a secretarial job for an insurance company owned by Roy Penix.
She enjoyed working for Mr. Penix, but she was soon offered a job for more money by one of the banks in town and she took it. She worked there until her marriage in 1947 to John Cecil McGaughey.
After her marriage, John and she and John's parents moved to Newport to run a new farming operation, McGaughey Brothers, Inc.
The McGaugheys proceeded to establish themselves as active members in the Newport community and in the Newport First Methodist Church.
Ruth poured her energies into being a hardworking farm housewife and mother. She became especially involved in the Order of the Eastern Star and was active in the county extension homemakers club.
She became a member of the Madonna Sunday School Class and often served as its teacher.
She eventually became the bookkeeper and "official errand runner" (a job requiring much time and elbow grease but not meriting much glory) for McGaughey Brothers, Inc.
About the time that their daughter Connie graduated from Arkansas State University, John made an offer to Ruth that she was not able to resist. Would she be interested in going to college; not with any grand purpose in mind but just for the satisfaction of having done so.
She had always regretted that she had not been able to afford the time and money to go. He believed they could swing it financially. She said "yes" and threw herself into the project with great fervor.
It took quite a while of driving to Jonesboro on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, year-round, to accomplish her goal.
In 1976, Ruth graduated with a bachelor's degree in English, Student of Special Distinction. She had managed to set the grading curve in every class she had attended.
In her free time, Ruth enjoyed traveling and the outdoors. She had an adventurous spirit and was always ready for their next trip.
She was also a very active member of the Order of the Eastern Star where she served as worthy grand matron in 1989. Through Eastern Star, she made lifelong friendships that brought her much joy in life.
Ruth also found great joy in gardening. Each summer she would grow produce in her garden in her backyard where she could often be found weeding or picking her vegetables.
In her later years, she would often be seen weeding the flower beds at St. Bernards Village in Jonesboro when that became her home. Ruth was a competitive card player who took winning games of Skip-Bo against her family and friends very seriously (and if you were her partner, you had better play correctly). She also enjoyed playing dominos and Hand and Foot.
Ruth is survived by her son, John Mark McGaughey (Beverly) of Fayetteville; her grandchildren, Lee McGaughey Stuart (Kimberly) of Jonesboro, Amanda Rowe (Nathan) of Prairie Grove and Ryan McGaughey (Kenzie) of Fayetteville; and her sister, Jackie Gieptner (Ervin) of Houston, Texas.
She had three great-grandchildren, Makayla and Kellan Rowe and Jocelyn Stuart. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
Ruth was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, John Cecil McGaughey, her parents, Harvey and Agnes Nelson, her daughter, Connie Stuart, her brother, J.H. Nelson Sr., and her sisters, Faye Gaeke, Edith Drake and Garner McDaniel.
She is also remembered by many close friends that she made through the years.
Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Friday at Newport First United Methodist with burial in Walnut Grove Cemetery. Friends may visit from 1 p.m. until service time Friday at the church.
Those honored to serve as pallbearers are Ryan McGaughey, Lee Stuart, Nathan Rowe, Heath McGaughey, John Lewis Hutchinson and Justin Doyle.
Memorials may be made to First Methodist Church in Newport or a charity of your choice.