Gladys M Callahan DeRuwe
October 21, 1917 – July 21, 2020
Gladys Callahan DeRuwe, age 102, of Spokane Washington, passed away on July 21 2020. Gladys was born on October 21 1917 in Tioga, North Dakota to Olive (Olava) Agre Borstad and Christ H. Borstad. Christ came from Norway at a young age (10) with his parents and siblings, arriving at his uncle’s farm in Minnesota in 1887. Years later, Christ and his brother homesteaded in western North Dakota on what became the family farm where Gladys grew up with three older brothers and one sister.
Some childhood memories Gladys recalled, included preferring to spending her time outside; she called herself a “tomboy”! Chores included taking coffee and lunch to the “hired hands” mid-morning and mid-afternoon, and riding Pinto (one of the farm horses) out to the pastures daily, and rounding up cows for milking. School was at the large, grade 1-12 Lindahl Country School, north of the farm, horse drawn wagon or sleigh were the transportation. Eventually, the high school years were at Tioga HS. Music was a big part of her life. The family entertained themselves in the evening with parents and children playing different instruments. Gladys played the “kazoo”!! 6th grade piano lessons were taught by a lady once a week, arriving from a nearby town; HS Girls’ Glee Club singing, school pianist, church organist and choir director were other music parts of her high school years. After graduating, Gladys remained home for one year to care for her mother, who had tuberculosis. Gladys attended Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, graduating in 1939. She sang in the well-known Concordia Concert Choir and was a soloist. A special collage memory was being part of a college girls’ trio, during WW 2, “The boys were all at war”, she said; “We provided community entertainment for others and ourselves, by singing on a radio station program, as well as for other community events in Fargo, ND. We called ourselves, “The Three Janes”; our accompanist, we named Jean”!!
After graduating from college, the next 6 years she taught schoo in 3 different communities in Minnesota. She directed church choirs also in these communities. Continuing her education she received her Master’s Degree in Music Education at the University of Michigan and went on to teach at Bemidji State College in Minnesota. There she met Maurice Callahan, also a music educator, and were married in June of 1948. Eventually they both taught in Duluth, MN.
In 1963 they moved to San Marcus, Texas where Maurice became the band director at Texas State University (then named Southwest Texas State). Gladys was a homemaker and also worked for the Regional Office of the IRS for 7 years.
In 1997 Maurice passed away, and in 1998 Gladys moved to Spokane, where 2 nephews and 3 nieces welcomed her. She lived at the Touchmark Retirement Community where she enjoyed the rest of her life. Gladys met and married Milan DeRuwe while at the Touchmark and they delighted in traveling through Europe on sea and river cruises. Milan passed away in 2006.
Gladys was active for many years at the Touchmark, managing the library, playing on a Wii bowling team, working on several committees., attending exercise classes, playing piano for church services, and attending the Spokane Symphony. She was an avid Bingo player and could play 6 cards at 102. She was a kind and generous person, a philanthropist, contributing especially to the Union Gospel Mission and the Spokane Symphony. Gladys loved Spokane! The seasonal varieties, the beautiful parks, visits and dinners at her family’s homes, excursions to surrounding areas and beyond, and all the traditions provided for a Norwegian Christmas celebration, another childhood memory.
Gladys was preceded in death by her parents, her four siblings: Harold Borstad (Lillian Togstad), Marian Daehlin (Reider Daehlin), Arthur Borstad (Clara Kortgaard), Robert Borstad (Harriet Thompson), her two husbands, three nieces and one great nephew. She is survived by several cousins, nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place; burial will be in Hay, Kansas, next to Maurice Callahan.