Demaine Funeral Home


Please join a live stream of the service at

Private Memorial Service at St. James Episcopal Church and Burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Dimock Walsh LTCOL, USMC (Ret.)

May 23, 1941January 21, 2021
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"A Servants Heart to do Great Deeds"

Ruth Dimock Walsh, 79, of Manassas, Virginia, beloved mother, grandmother and friend, passed away peacefully at Virginia Hospital Center with her daughter by her side on Thursday, January 21, 2021. Ruth crossed over into heaven due to complications from COVID.

Ruth was born May 23, 1941 in Greenwich, Connecticut to a proud southerner from Kentucky, Mabel Ruth Coates Walsh, who was a Latin teacher, and a first generation Irish-American from New York, Thomas James Boniface Walsh, who was a publisher. She and her late brother, Thomas Jackson Coates Walsh grew up mainly in Yonkers, NY before moving to the suburbs in her teen years to Ridgewood, NJ where she enjoyed ballet, performing in summer stock dramatic productions and enjoying ice cream sundaes with her best friend, Valerie Shafer Deatte. Ruth went by “Peggy” as her nickname then. To begin her first career, Ruth moved to New York City shortly after high school graduation where she was part of the ensemble of the New York Ballet. Once riding the subway, she saw a Marine Corps recruiting poster which advertised paid college education and she liked their uniform. She enlisted as a private in the Marine Corps in 1960, and thus began her second career. She had many accomplishments which started in MC Basic Training (boot camp), such as carrying the flag during marches and she continued to have a good work ethic instilled with tasks such as scrubbing bathroom floors with a toothbrush. Ruth enjoyed sharing her experience to help recruit more Women Marines and was featured in numerous recruiting efforts for the Marine Corps including Miss Marine Corps in 1960 and several recruiting posters and magazine features.

Ruth's abilities were recognized early and she was assigned to the Office of the Secretary of the Navy. Her accomplishments there resulted in her selection to lead the administrative support staff to the President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy, known unofficially as the Warren Commission. Shortly thereafter, she had the distinction of being the first (and possibly only) woman Marine to be directly commissioned a Second Lieutenant without completing Officer Candidate School. After Officer Basic Training she attended Administrative Officer School at Parris Island, SC, which prepared her for her various assignments in administrative support.

Ruth met her husband, Wilfred (Bill) Woidyla, another mustang (formerly enlisted Marine) at Quantico, Virginia. She would later share great stories of her treasured time when they were both assigned to the Presidential Marine Corps helicopter squad. During that time, she became the first woman Marine to remain on active duty after giving birth to a baby daughter, who was her pride and joy. Ruth provided administrative support in several commands and offices and worked tirelessly on several women’s advocacy issues to give a voice to important issues of equality. She was the women’s advocate to NATO as a representative of the Marine Corps and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and shortly before her retirement, she was integral in the movement for women to carry swords in the Marine Corps. Ruth’s great patriotism continued when she was recalled during Desert Storm and she served as a chaplain and support to service members in Dover, DE as they received fallen heroes. During her MC service she earned numerous awards including National Defense Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with a Gold Star, Presidential Service badge and the Legion of Merit Award shortly before she retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1985 with a total of 25 years of service.

Ruth started her third career in the late 1980s when she received the call from the Holy Spirit to become an Episcopal priest. She attended seminary and was ordained in 1992. She served in various Episcopal churches in the northern Virginia area. Using her crisis management talents, she frequently would come into churches after they had a challenge to help them and was described as the “Mary Poppins” of priests. She later went on to work with the elderly doing clinical pastoral support. She sat with so many families and their loved ones as they transitioned into heaven from earth. Ruth also became a Certified Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor in 2008 and went on to teach Clinical Pastoral Education to priests, chaplains and professional caregivers to help them give their best spiritual support to those in great need at their end of life.

Ruth also remained involved in volunteering by supporting other women in the military with numerous advocacy groups, including being at the grass roots level for the creation of the Women in Military Service memorial outside of Arlington National Cemetery. Ruth began an online doctorate program in Psychology with a concentration of Logotherapy (hope based psychology) and hoped to use it to support Veterans with PTSD. Ruth was known as very genuine and caring. After Ruth’s final “paying” job, Ruth’s call to serve took on the role of full time “Nana'' duties to her two grandchildren.

Ruth was a lifelong learner. After graduating from Ridgewood High School, Ruth spent over 20 years balancing her career and college night school to earn her Bachelor’s degree from American University in Psychology. She later attained a Masters of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary at age 50, finally earning a Doctorate in Psychology from the Graduate Theological Foundation shortly before her 75th birthday.

Ruth was married for 16 years to the late Bill Woidyla and they remained friends after their divorce in the mid-1980s until his passing in 2003. Ruth is survived by her daughter, Julia Ruth Vaughn, son-in-law Patrick Vaughn from Manassas, VA and their children Alexandra “Allie” Grace Vaughn and William Joseph Vaughn. Ruth stayed connected with her step-daughters Debra Anne Woidyla Barham and Jeanette Woidyla-Zodrow and enjoyed seeing their families grow, particularly sharing pictures on social media. Ruth was also well loved and remained connected with numerous nieces and nephews from Bill’s family and was very close with her son-in-law’s family. Ruth valued the power of friendship and has so many dear friends. Some of her closest friends go back more than 50 years.

Ruth loved animals and enjoyed the companionship of numerous pets, both great and small during her life. Ruth’s beloved Maltese poodle mix “Nana” was her closest companion over the last year. Visitation will occur on Saturday, January 30, 2021 from 5-7pm at Demaine Funeral Home, 5308 Backlick Road, Springfield, VA 22151. Due to COVID restrictions, they will also live stream the visitation on their Facebook live feed with comments made by the family at 5:30. Ruth’s memorial service will occur at St. James Episcopal Church in Mt. Vernon, VA shortly before her interment at Arlington Cemetery. These will take place at a later date when Arlington is ready for her.

Memorial donations are encouraged to do more great work in causes which were near and dear to Ruth’s heart. Specifically, the ASPCA to care for pets and the Semper Fi & America’s Fund to help veterans and their families in times of need. Thank you to the hundreds of people who served with Ruth, in all chapters and ways in her life.

Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians


  • Visitation

    Saturday, January 30, 2021


  • Graveside Service

    Wednesday, May 12, 2021


The Rev. Dr. Ruth Dimock Walsh LTCOL, USMC (Ret.)

have a memory or condolence to add?

Julia Vaughn

October 7, 2021

Here are the videos of Ruth's service:

The Memorial:


are both fitting her two major chapters of her life. The memorial is at St. James Episcopal Church outside. It is intimate and you can hear the sounds of nature during the service.

The burial is in Arlington cemetery. We could not have asked for better weather. We were pleasantly surprised to see so many Marines, including a full band, to honor her. They had lifted that restriction the day before due to COVID.

They were both very beautiful to honor her. In the last few months, I have been faced with many emotions. Through all of them, I am honored to have been her daughter. It also reminds me to continue to support others.

I think out of all of the great things my mom did, I think she would hope that her legacy is that others are a bit kinder to each other. See the best in each other, lift others up when they are down and be kind to animals too.

Julia Ruth Vaughn

Julia Vaughn

May 4, 2021

Thank you to all of the many messages you all have shared about my mother, Ruth. These memories will indeed continue to be shared to celebrate the legacy of my mother. They are also of great comfort to all of us, including her beloved grandchildren, Allie and William.

I have not been in touch with all who reached out but please know I appreciate it more than you know. It is still really hard for me to talk to those who loved her so much. It reminds me of her so much and just really hard.

I am hopeful that her funeral and burial will help us all move forward in our grieving process.

We will be posting a live stream (and the recording to view later) of her private funeral as well as her burial on Wednesday, May 12.

It is a public event posted in Facebook. Please search "Remembering Ruth Walsh". When I have the link to the videos after the event, I will also share them here.

Arlington cemetery is allowing up to 100 people to attend, so if you are available and interested, please come as we celebrate her legacy in such a significant patriotic way.

Hugs and blessings to all,
Julia Ruth Vaughn

Annette Stewart

April 15, 2021

My deepest sympathy to you and your family, Julia.
We were neighbors in the 1980’s.
Your mom and I enjoyed monthly Kennedy Center events during our 3 years living on the same cul d sac.
She would always run into someone she knew.
Ruth was a very easy person to talk with...and I enjoyed our conversations so much.
Great memories of you and all the wonderful children who lived there at that time.
Peace to you. Annette Stewart (Laura and Mark’s mom)

LtCol Tom Chase McKenney USMC (Ret)

March 29, 2021

Peggy and I have loved one another in an inescapable but godly way since the early '60s. She has left an everlasting mark upon my life She taught me something that lasts, and now I am in my 91st year: "The heart is a home with room for all that it loves." I have loved her, and lived by this life lesson that she taught me for 60-plus years, and have shared it with others.
Incidentally, if you doubt me, she was so disappointed by failing to be selected for Col. that she hang her Legion of Merit in her laundry room.
The last time I saw her was at breakfast in Virginia with her lovely daughter and baby grand daughter.
I will always remember her, and the night when I fled to her room at quantico to escape a woman who was persuing me. We laughed a lot over that night.
I hope that her daughter remembers that breakfast. Her baby was sweet and peaceful throughout.
I would add a photo but I don't know how.
I would be grateful if her daughter would contact me: LtCol Tom C. mckenney, USMC (Ret), 113 Ogden Ave, Ocean Springs, MS 39564 228-861-7962.
I loved that wonderful, godly woman!

Liz Pomerleau

February 24, 2021

Please see this link that we at Goodwin House wrote as a Tribute to Ruth:

If you have photos you'd like for us to include, we would be happy to.

My condolences to you and your family, and deep gratitude for the life of Ruth.

Paul & Vicky Vivian

January 30, 2021

Ruth was a very remarkable person. She was of great help to our family when our son was very sick. Ruth will always be in our memories.

Bob and Mary Blair

January 30, 2021

Ruth was a kind and loving person. She always made time for anyone who needed her. We were so fortunate to have her as our Interim Rector when we were healing at St James. We know she will be greatly missed by her family along with her St James family.

Peter Ackerman

January 30, 2021

Ruth was my supervisor for one summer. I was a seminarian at the time and was doing my Clinical Pastoral Education internship at Goodwin House. She taught me how to be pastorally present with people around death. She provided tools to me that I still use today. I was so sorry to hear of our collective loss. She was superb.

Bob Pirie

January 30, 2021

I was introduced to Ruth by a mutual friend after having suffered through a serious bout with depression. Ruth was working as Pastoral Counselor at Goodwin House at the time. She took me under her wing and spent many, many hours with me nursing me back to mental health. I always looked forward to those sessions and always felt better upon leaving them. These sessions went on for months though she was already very busy with her seniors at Goodwin House. As far as I'm concerned, Ruth is a saint. I believe she probably saved my life. Although I have not seen her since those counseling sessions ended, she has always been in my prayers and will continue to be.

Hallie Reeves

January 30, 2021


I will certainly miss our time together, nevertheless, you know we really loved each other.

Lovingly Yours,