Ruth Louise Alcantara
December 7, 1927 – July 20, 2018
Ruth Louise Alcantara Ruth Louise was born on December 7, 1927, in Clatskanie, Oregon, to Ole and Lovise Johnson, recent immigrants from Norway. She was the sixth child in their family of six daughters and seven sons. In 1937, when depression-era difficulties led to the loss of the family’s Clatskanie farm, the Johnsons moved to Eddy Point at Knappa, Oregon. The Johnson siblings would remember life on the 160-acre farm located on a bluff above the Columbia River as happy, adventuresome days. Ruth’s father, Ole, salvaged a sunken gillnet boat at Eddy Point and restored it, and in 1941 he purchased a 38-foot troller, the Niro S, and began shark fishing in the Pacific Ocean. Shark liver brought a good price; however, it required going out over the treacherous Columbia River Bar. On April 23, 1942, Ole and sons Karl and George crossed the bar and didn’t return. Ruth was 14 when they were lost at sea. After the tragedy, the family moved from isolated Eddy Point, accessible only by boat or railroad track, to Astoria, where it would be easier to earn a livelihood and be in fellowship with other Christians. God provided for the family. Olaf, the eldest, had been spared, though he would normally have accompanied his dad. Olaf felt that God had saved him for a purpose and accepted the responsibility God gave him. At 22, he became a stand-in father. He purchased a house for the family on Harrison Street in Astoria. His fishing was the family’s primary support, while Lovise worked outside the home in many different capacities. In Astoria, the whole family was able to attend the Irving Avenue Apostolic Lutheran Church. Lovise was instrumental in arranging for services and meals, and the girls in the family helped with setting up for the meals, waiting on tables, and dish washing. God also brought Pastor Ray and Ada Kurtti and Pastor John and Lillian Riikonen and their young families into the fellowship at a time when the Johnson siblings needed to identify with young Christians. Ruth entered ninth grade when the family moved to Astoria; however, she didn’t finish high school but went to work to help support the family. Early on she worked as a live-in nanny and later as a nurse’s aide. At 17, she got a job at the Bumble Bee Company. With so many men being drafted, the fish processor hired teenage boys like her younger brothers Jack and Jim and depended on strong women like Ruth to do the heavy work. After two years at the cannery, Ruth landed a dental assisting job with Dr. John Parpala. Each time Ruth had a dental appointment, Dr. Parpala asked her when she was going to come to work for him. When she finally called his bluff, he told her to report on Monday! She worked six days a week at the dental office, staying for five years before returning to cannery work. In 1949 Ruth’s mother purchased a house on Cedar Street comprising living quarters and a nursing home. Lovise cared for eight to ten clients at a time, with the Johnson siblings helping. In fact each of the sisters would be involved with caring for the elderly in the future, with Ruth working as a respite caregiver during the years sister Mary operated an adult family home. Back at Bumble Bee in her early 20s, Ruth was often paired to work with the men. She lifted heavy tubs and trays onto the tables and cases of cans onto the conveyor belt. Job assignments changed with the fishing season; sometimes Ruth worked at the cannery and other times at the cold storage where fish were cleaned, filleted, packed, and frozen for shipment. At one station, a fellow challenged her to handle a 100-pound halibut. She could do it, but hanging on to the wet, slimy fish was tricky. One day a large octopus was delivered with a load of fish. Management wanted four female workers to pose for a photo holding the live, but sluggish, octopus. Ruth volunteered. During this era, Ruth and cousin Lillian Laurila, inseparable friends, moved into their own apartment. Both worked for Bumble Bee. Neither had a car or a driver’s license, so they got around town on foot or by bus. Ruth’s younger siblings enjoyed hanging out at the apartment—just as for decades to come, all the family would spend lots of happy times at Ruth’s home as she married and had a family. Ruth’s time at Bumble Bee proved significant to her future! Bienvenido “Ben” Aramil Alcantara had immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in 1951, and when he moved to Astoria, he took a job with Bumble Bee. Ben was always trying to catch Ruth’s attention at work, often smiling and looking her way. Ruth’s co-workers encouraged her to befriend Ben. Soon the two began dating. When Ruth moved to Seattle, Ben followed! Ben and Ruth were married in Seattle on February 23, 1957, at a Methodist church where the pastor was a Filipino. The newlyweds settled in an apartment in the Ballard district. In the early 1960s, Ben became a U.S. citizen. More celebration was called for when Ben and Ruth welcomed son Philip, born in 1964, and daughter Beth, born in 1967. The family’s longtime support was Ben’s employment with North Coast Chemical Company, where he worked for over 30 years. Before the children were born, Ruth worked at the George A. Johnson Company in Ballard producing rain gear. She painted the garments with neoprene, an artificial rubber. Then mica dust was applied and the garments were hung in a kiln. Ben and Ruth also ran a side business cleaning office buildings. In 1960 Ben and Ruth purchased a house in North Seattle. The house was small by today’s standards, but they entertained guests indoors and outdoors, hosting many gatherings and barbecues for family and friends. In the mid-1960s, Ben went commercial fishing with Ruth’s brother Phil, earning enough for a down payment on a new home. After Philip was born, they began looking for a larger home and in 1966 selected a split-level house in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. They moved when Philip was 18 months old and were able to retain their old house as a rental property. After the family moved to Mountlake Terrace, Ben joined the Mountlake Terrace Fire Department and served as a volunteer firefighter for 24 years. At the same time, he was an active leader in the Boy Scouts of America, his service extending over 27 years. Philip became an Eagle Scout, and both Philip and Beth chose firefighting careers. The Alcantara family traveled frequently around the Pacific Northwest, especially enjoying Astoria, Oregon, Vancouver, B.C., and Victoria, B.C. In the 1970s, they traveled by train to New York to visit Ben’s brother Jaime and his wife, Aurora, and family. They saw the sights in New York and visited Niagara Falls. Later, in the early 1990s, Ben was able to make two trips home to the Philippines, accompanied first by Beth and then by Philip. Hospitality, especially hospitality toward children, was a real value to both Ben and Ruth. They included others in their activities, both before and after Philip and Beth were born. Nieces and nephews were often pampered house guests and also enjoyed fun and formative outings to places like Canada, Astoria, and the mountains. Along with doting on kids, Ben and Ruth liked taking friends and family to their favorite Chinese food restaurant, where Ben would order family style. For kids and adults alike, the annual Alcantara Christmas party was a highlight. Ruth always had a gift wrapped specially for each person. Ben and Ruth also took lots of pictures for the family to enjoy later and had the family’s first movie camera, capturing special memories. As a couple, Ben and Ruth shared the gift of generosity, bringing to mind the scripture, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). In addition to offering fun activities for kids, Ben was always willing to help in practical ways whenever asked. Ruth valued honoring everyone’s special occasions, giving gifts, and helping to celebrate milestones. Ben and Ruth were thrilled with the birth of their first grandchild, Naomi, in 1994. They assisted Beth and her husband, Tony, with childcare as often as they could since Beth worked 24-hour shifts at the Naval Submarine Base Bangor Fire Department. A doting grandfather, Ben made many trips on the Edmonds-Kingston ferry helping bring Naomi back and forth across Puget Sound. Following his retirement from North Coast Chemical, Ben worked for Stadium Flowers. He was on his way to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to pick up flowers for Stadium on June 12, 1997, when he was killed in a car accident. Ben and Ruth had been married for 40 years. After Ben’s death, Ruth continued living in the family home in Mountlake Terrace, always thankful for the support of her children and extended family through life’s changes. Grandchildren brought her joy. Joining big sister Naomi, the grandson she and Ben had been anticipating, Anthony, was born in 1997, and Benjamin in 1999. Philip and Svetlana Mishina were married in 2001, and their son, Nikita, was born in 2004. Beth and Jeff Pearce were married in 2010, and along with a son-in-law, Ruth gained grandson Dylan. Over the several years that Ruth became increasingly homebound, Philip and Beth coordinated their mom’s caregivers and served faithfully as caregivers themselves, alternating nights with their mom as well as countless daytime hours. Their sacrifice, as well as that of their families, made it possible for Ruth to stay in the home she and Ben purchased back in 1966. At 90, Ruth surpassed the age of her parents and her many siblings. As she thought about that, Ruth recognized that God was with her and provided strength and comfort for each new day. She had reason to count on God’s promise, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). With the advent of her final illness, Ruth’s children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews, and other special people in her life were able to spend precious time with her as God prepared to call her home. In her own home as she wished, with the loving care of her children, Ruth passed away Friday, July 20, 2018, crossing the bar and entering the shores of eternity. We celebrate with her the attainment of all her hopes in Jesus Christ. Ruth was preceded in death by her husband, Ben; parents Ole and Lovise; brothers Olaf, Karl, George, Jack, Jim, and Philip; and sisters Gerda, Esther, Rachel, and Mary. She is survived by her children and their spouses, Philip and Svetlana Alcantara and Beth and Jeff Pearce; five grandchildren, Naomi Matson and her husband, Mark Mullen, Anthony Matson, Benjamin Matson, Nikita Alcantara, and Dylan Pearce; as well as by sister Mildred St. Martin, brother Ben Johnson, and many nieces and nephews, each of whom held a special place in her heart. Friends and family appreciated Ruth’s kind and generous heart, her love of family, and the sense of humor that she displayed even in her final weeks. Brother Ben noted how fitting it is to gather on a Sunday morning to remember Ruth. A steadfast member of the Seattle Apostolic Lutheran Church since she moved to Seattle in the 1950s, Ruth always valued Sunday morning worship. Let’s say with her, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1).
- Visitation Saturday, July 28, 2018
- Funeral Service Sunday, July 29, 2018
- Graveside Service Sunday, July 29, 2018
Ruth Louise Alcantara
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August 12, 2018
I am very sorry for your loss. May you rely on God who comforts us during difficult times. My sincere condolences to the family. 2 Corinthians 1:3
July 28, 2018
In 1960 Ruth and Ben brought me to the zoo...it was a key memory in my early youth....i think Ben had a karmon ghia then but that is stretching my memory...
July 28, 2018
Philip and Beth, I'm very sorry that I am unable to make it to Seattle for the funeral. The world is definitely more empty with the loss of your mother. She was very good to me. Much like a surrogate mother to me, after the passing of my own. I wish that I could have spent more time with her, especially these later years. My heart goes out to the both of you.
God bless, Jim R.