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Ruth Kirby

December 26, 1925 April 25, 2013
Ruth Kirby
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Obituary for Ruth Kirby

RUTH IRENE GABRIELSON KIRBY was born on December 26, 1925, in Luverne, Minnesota, Rock County. She was the daughter of Geta and Gabriel Gabrielson of Luverne. She attended elementary and high school in Luverne. She subsequently taught in a nearby multi-grade country school for 2 years, then went on to attend St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, with her sister Esther, after farming one of their father’s fields together to make enough money for college. She graduated from St. Olaf in 1951. After graduation, she and Esther attended the multinational summer school in Oslo, Norway. She returned to the U.S. to teach home economics in Winthrop, MN, for 2-3 years. She then ventured to Anchorage, Alaska with Esther and a friend, teaching home economics at the new high school there when Alaska was still a territory.

After 8 days in Alaska, spent in an Anchorage motel while hunting for housing, they were approached in a drive-up caf by a young man who had served in the Marines and who recognized from their dirty car that they had just driven up the Alaska Highway. He helped them find a place to live and went on to court Ruth. Ruth married George Henry Kirby of Jacksonville. Sadly, in 1957, George was killed in an automobile and eighteen wheeler accident in Alaska at mile 27 , Tok Junction. He left behind his wife and twin children, David and Deborah, 18 months old at the time.

Ruth and her twins lived in Loveland, Colorado with Ruth’s mother, where Ruth taught second grade for 2-3 years. They all moved to Marshall, MN, in 1961, and then to Pipestone in 1962, where she also taught school. Ruth, her children, and her mother moved to Luverne in 1966 and, after building several houses, settled in a home on Brown Street. Ruth taught in Pipestone until about 1967 and then in Luverne until her retirement in 1989, completely enjoying her time with her family, relatives, and friends.

During her retirement, she traveled many times to California and Connecticut to visit her children and later, her grandchildren. She was very involved with her church, Grace Lutheran: singing in the choir, belonging to circle, acting as a WINGS mentor, and being active in GLCW and several committees. She participated in at least two musicals with the Green Earth Players (Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma!). She traveled extensively with various family members and spent several summers working with a friend, Louise Vegge, at Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Parks. During her travels, among many sights and experiences, she saw the Sistine Chapel and tried crawfish in New Orleans ('too strong!'). She loved to bike, read, swim, meet with the Sewing Club and Red Hat Group, and have the camaraderie of her relatives and friends.

In February 2006, Ruth moved to North Oaks in the north St. Paul area to be near her son, David, and family. She thoroughly enjoyed the move, but also missed and kept in contact with her pals in Luverne. In Waverly Gardens Presbyterian Homes in North Oaks, where she had her independent living apartment, she made many friends and attended numerous activities. She founded a singing group shortly after moving in and led the group for over 5 years. She sang in Wednesday Chapel and Sunday services at Waverly Gardens, led services for Chaplain Bruce occasionally, and was very active in Operation Christmas Child, among other activities. She saw her son and his family frequently (5 minutes away), and visited or was visited by her daughter from Connecticut several times a year (as well as speaking to her daughter several times a day on the phone!). In 2012, she attended the wedding of her first grandchild, Jonathan Kirby, as well as four of her grandchildren’s graduations. She was always willing to go along to her grandchildren’s high school and college soccer, football, and basketball games. Life was full and pleasant for her!

She survived surgeries for colon cancer and a heart valve replacement. She successfully battled against recurrent ovarian cancer for the last 2 and a half years of her life before finally losing the battle. She died peacefully on April 25, 2013, at 11:02 A.M. Despite her health problems, she was gracious, seldom complained and remained devoted to friends and family.

Ruth was preceded in death by an infant brother, Garfield, in 1924, her husband, George, in 1957, her father, Gabriel, in 1964, her mother, Geta, in 1976, her brother, “Bud,” in 1984, her brother, Olaf, in 1989, plus many Florida relatives on her husband’s side.

She is survived by her twin children, David and his wife Nancy Kirby (Lino Lakes, MN) and Deborah Kirby and her husband Donald Speicher (Ledyard, CT); 6 grandchildren: Jonathan, Rebekah, Kristina, Christopher, and Benjamin Kirby; and Ahna Speicher; and her sister, Esther and husband, Bob Hand (Kalispell, MT).

Memorials may be directed to the Special Olympics or Operation Christmas Child.

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Previous Events





4:00 PM 4/28/2013 4:00:00 PM - 7:00 PM 4/28/2013 7:00:00 PM
Hartquist Funeral Home - Luverne Chapel

207 Elm St.
Luverne, MN 56156

Hartquist Funeral Home - Luverne Chapel
207 Elm St. Luverne 56156 MN
United States





2:00 PM 4/29/2013 2:00:00 PM
Grace Lutheran Church - Luverne

500 N. Kniss Ave.
Luverne, MN 56156

Grace Lutheran Church - Luverne
500 N. Kniss Ave. Luverne 56156 MN
United States

Cemetery Details


Maplewood Cemetery - Luverne Final Resting Place

1242 W. Warren St.
Luverne, MN 56156

1242 W. Warren St. Luverne 56156 MN
United States

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