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DARLENE OPAL RUUD was born on January 16, 1933 to John and Della (Lewis) Ellefson in Hardwick, Minnesota. Darlene was raised on the family farm with her three older siblings, Mattie, Ruby, and Jessie. After completing eighth grade of country school, she began working on the farm – chores, gardening, and helping with the chickens. She later obtained her GED. Darlene received her confirmation on October 6, 1946. On December 30, 1951, Darlene was united in marriage to Robert Ruud at Bethany Lutheran Church in Luverne, Minnesota. Darlene lived in countless homes over the years. While her husband, Robert, was in the Air Force, they lived in Gulfport, Mississippi, Columbus, Ohio, and Merced, California. After Robert was discharged from the Air Force in 1954, they moved to Worthington, Minnesota and then to Minneapolis, Minnesota. They moved around frequently through their adult lives due to Robert’s employment with IBM. Residences included Marquette, Michigan (1958-1960), Sioux City, Iowa (1960-1964), Mahopac, New York (1964 - 1991), White Plains, New York (1991-2005), and finally back to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to be closer to family (2005-2021). Darlene spent much of her life as a housewife, keeping busy raising their six children. When their two youngest children were in high school in the mid 1970’s, Darlene joined the workforce as an Account Administrator with Sears and IBM Employees Federal Credit Union. On Friday, March 19, 2021, Darlene died peacefully at Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls at the age of 88 years, 2 months, and 3 days.
Darlene was a founding member of Grace Lutheran Church in Jefferson Valley, New York (1964-2005). She sang in the choir, taught Sunday school, and was a member of the administration. She was actively involved as a member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls (2008-2021). She enjoyed participating in her church Bible study and volunteering in various capacities, including folding packets. She considered her fellow church members to be her “Sioux Falls Family.” Darlene volunteered at the senior service center, was a faithful donor to the humane society, and was involved with Sons of Norway since the mid-70’s. She sponsored children from Honduras and families through Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She enjoyed her bird watching, crossword puzzles, embroidery, crochet, and maintaining her houseplants. She also enjoyed completing puzzles on the computer while listening to audiobooks or her daily devotions. She loved pets and had many animals over the years, including her current cat, Satin Kitty (but all her cats were known as “Kitty”). Darlene loved socializing with friends whether through weekly lunches, get-togethers for coffee, or gatherings at church. She was very caring, giving, and quick witted, always ready to step in to lend a helping hand or do her best to cheer someone up. She valued helping others and always wanted those around her to feel welcomed and valued. She enjoyed taking road trips throughout the country with her family. She loved to travel and visited 49 states (only missing Hawaii) with her husband, Bob. She eventually would get to Hawaii with her youngest son, Eric, and his family.
Darlene is lovingly remembered by her children, Joel (partner, Elizabeth “Tootie” Nicholson) Ruud of Atlanta, Georgia, David (Janis) Ruud of Holmes, New York, Stanley (Lisa Rae) Ruud of Edina, Minnesota, Jason (Mary) Ruud of Plymouth, Minnesota, and Eric (Melissa) Ruud of Savage, Minnesota; 14 grandchildren, Jeffrey, Cali, Andrew, Holly, Kirsten, Karly, Evelyn, Dana, Christopher, Vincent, Grace, Kayla, Jessica, and Jacob; great-grandchildren, Lynae, Jaxon, Jamie, and Marley; sister, Jessie Wenzel of Luverne, Minnesota, sister-in-law, Beverly (Ruud) (Bill) Simpson of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and brother-in-law, Stuart (Kay) Ruud of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Ruud; daughter, Rhona Ruud; sisters, Mattie Petersen and Ruby Dibbern; infant sister, LaVon; parents, John and Della Ellefson; and parents-in-law, Elmer and Irene Ruud.