Ruth Harris, 90Ruth Harris, 90, of Akeley, Minn., died on Sunday, May 3, at the St. Michael’s Health and Rehabilitation Center in Virginia, Minn. Ruth Virginia Belanger was born Sept. 3, 1918, in Warroad, Minn. She lived with her family on a farm in that area and then moved to the Pelland Junction west of International Falls.
Ruth Harris, 90, of Akeley, Minn., died on Sunday, May 3, at the St. Michael’s Health and Rehabilitation Center in Virginia, Minn.
Ruth Virginia Belanger was born Sept. 3, 1918, in Warroad, Minn. She lived with her family on a farm in that area and then moved to the Pelland Junction west of International Falls.
When she had to walk past the large Indian mounds near the Rainy River, she would be scared so her brothers would whistle. Ruth next moved into the town of International Falls. Since it was a long walk to her elementary school, on cold days Ruth would be invited into other homes to warm up along the way. She hated the long, itchy wool stockings she had to wear but was grateful for her daily school lunch — a hot bowl of soup that she bought for five cents.
When Ruth moved to Akeley, Minn., and lived along Eleventh Crow Wing Lake, she crossed the lake in a horse-drawn sleigh in order to go to school during the cold winter months. She graduated from the Akeley High School where she took classes in Latin, a language that Ruth said really helped her when she later studied to become a nurse.
When Ruth married Jess Harris on Sept. 14, 1940, she chose a male friend to be her attendant and later smiled at the thought of having a bride’s “man” of honor. Having lived through the Great Depression, Ruth was frugal and used orange crates for cupboards and dressers as a new bride. She used oil lamps sparingly and used a wringer washer and a large metal tub to wash clothes before hanging them outdoors to dry.
During their first year of marriage, Jess and Ruth had only a bicycle for transportation. That year Jess surprised Ruth with an enamel bread bowl that he had purchased from the Chamberlain General Store — a bowl that Ruth used whenever she baked bread right up until she was 81 and became a resident at May Creek Lodge, an assisted living facility in Walker, Minn.
Ruth and Jess worked hard to raise and educate their three children. Ruth maintained a clean and well-organized home, canned and froze a wide variety of vegetables from the family’s large garden and preserved wild blueberries, tame strawberries and many crates of peaches, pears and plums to help feed her family.
When the family lived on Bender’s dairy farm near Nevis, Minn., Ruth’s excellent bread baking ability was noted by tourists who quickly bought her fresh loaves of bread at a roadside stand that Ruth’s teenaged daughter Sandy managed.
For more than 30 years Ruth also helped support her family by working at Ah Gwah Ching, a state institution near Walker, Minn.
Ruth enjoyed camping and traveling in Canada, Alaska and throughout the western half of the United States with Jess. Together they also enjoyed vegetable and flower gardening, fishing, playing cribbage, watching the Minnesota Twins, visiting with many friends around their kitchen table and sitting on their patio overlooking their garden.
After her retirement Ruth served as a hospice volunteer for an Akeley woman and was an active member of the Senior Citizen’s Club, the United Methodist Women, the Akeley Garden Club and delivered cookies and candies to shut-ins. Ruth was an avid birder, a skilled seamstress and an excellent knitter who later turned to crocheting as she said, “It went faster.”
Ruth enjoyed listening to music and often chose to hear piano music by great pianists. She loved her family and especially delighted in seeing her grandchildren.
Ruth is survived by her children, Sandra (Bernard) Huppert of Hudson, Susan (Douglas) Kolstad of Britt, Minn., James (Dianne) Harris of Akeley, Minn.; six grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, three great-great-grandchildren; sisters, Berenice Anderson of Fayetteville, Ga., Beatrice Hanson and Neva (Merle) Nelson of Akeley, Minn.; several nieces, nephews; and special friends Sue and Louie Terdan.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Jess; one sister, Mae; five brothers, Joe, David, Eddie, Alfred and Art.
A memorial service was Saturday, May 9, at 11 a.m. in the Akeley United Methodist Church. Pastor Gary Walpole was the officiant. Pam Harris was the soloist singing “On Eagle’s Wings.” Ardis Johnson was the organist. Congregational hymns were “In The Garden” and “Amazing Grace.”
Inurnment followed at the Akeley City Cemetery.
Memorials to the Akeley Senior Citizens Club, the Akeley Garden Club, the Akeley Methodist Women or the Akeley Cemetery Association are preferred.
Arrangements were handled by the Cease Family Funeral Home of Nevis, Minn.