Ruth A. Stone
December 6, 1921 – March 19, 2020
Ruth Ann Smith was born on December 6, 1921 on a farm near the tiny town of Waubeek in Linn County, Iowa. She died on March 19, 2020 due to complications from pneumonia. She was 98 years old. Ruth’s father was a farm laborer with a fourth grade education; her mother was a Quaker and a teacher. She was the seventh born of nine children. After attending five different elementary schools all over Cedar Rapids, Ruth at the age of 14 saw most of her family move to California in the midst of the Great Depression. She stayed behind, working in a Cedar Rapids boarding house for two dollars a week while she finished high school.
In 1940, she made her way to California by selling magazine subscriptions from town to town. In 1941, she woke on the morning after her 20th birthday to learn of the attack on Pearl Harbor. During the war years, she worked mostly in San Francisco for the Southern Pacific Railroad. For a time, she and some girlfriends moved to Los Angeles to work the night shift in a munitions factory. It turned out that the famous singer Nat King Cole owned the club next to their apartment, and they would often eat breakfast with his band. In addition, Ruth worked for a time as a hostess and elevator operator at a popular dinner theatre, where she escorted the likes of Bing Crosby, Mae West and Danny Kaye. It was at this time that Ruth began a lifetime of political involvement. She volunteered on Richard Nixon’s first house campaign in 1946, and became acquainted with Pat Nixon, his wife. She spent most of her life as a liberal Republican, serving for years as a “committee woman” for the GOP. In her final decades, she became disillusioned with the party, and consistently supported Democrats. Her final political act was to caucus for Elizabeth Warren a few weeks before her death.
In 1950, she met her future husband while on a blind date with her sister. In less than a year, she was married to Archie Stone and living back in Iowa. She and Archie, who worked for Wallace’s Farmer magazine, were married 64 years while raising three boys in West Des Moines.
In addition to taking care of her family, Ruth was also committed to taking care of her community. In 1957, she and her family joined St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, where she served on the church council and regularly attended services for over sixty years. She was active in the WDM Women’s Club. She drove older ladies to appointments, delivered Meals on Wheels, and helped immigrants adapt to Iowa as a volunteer for Lutheran Social Services. She was also a voracious reader throughout her life, reading as many as five books a week right up to the time of her passing.
Ruth Stone was the final surviving member of her generation in both the Smith and Stone families: the last of 26 siblings and spouses. She is survived by her sons, Jeff (Pam), Scott (Terri) and Ben (Marilyn), all of West Des Moines; six grandchildren: Korley Westvold (Jason), Bailey, Justine, Thomas, Hope & Nate; and two great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by a grandchild, Gavin, and her beloved husband, Archie.
In a 2017 video interview Ruth Stone summed up her philosophy of life: “Appreciate people. Appreciate all those that you know and find good in everybody. Because there is good in everyone.”
A Celebration of Life service will be held at a later time. Memorial contributions can be made to Friends of Walnut Woods State Park Inc., 1565 S. E. Walnut Woods Drive, West Des Moines, Iowa 50265. Please visit www.mclarensresthavenchapel.com for future updates and online condolences for the Stone family.
- A gathering at Walnut Woods Park will be scheduled at a later date.
Ruth A. Stone
April 2, 2020
Brother Jeff Stone
God Bless your Mother, Ruth and your family! After reading the great eulogy about your Mother
, I feel I know her a little. She was an incredible lady and had an incredible life! Her story from Iowa to California and back to Iowa was amazing! No wonder her Son turned out to be one great guy!
My sympathy goes out to you my good friend and all of the Stone Family!
God Bless and Stay Safe!
March 29, 2020
I have never met Ruth, but happened upon her obituary this morning and am so inspired by her life of adventure, determination (earning her diploma, selling magazine subscriptions to pay for her CA trip) and service. These lines touched me most deeply--
"She drove older ladies to appointments, delivered Meals onWheels, and helped immigrants adapt to Iowa as a volunteer for Lutheran Social Services. She was also a voracious reader throughout her life, reading as many as five books a week right up to the time of her passing."
As I look to my own retirement years, I am inspired by her gift of self and her ability to continue her adventures through books.
Thank you for sharing a compacted version of her life. May the Lord bless you in these coming days.
March 23, 2020
Ruth and Archie were long-time faithful members of St. Mark, and up until very recent days, Ruth was with us as a member of our women's book study group. She was faithful, dedicated, gracious, gentle and kind, and a friend to many. Ruth was loved and will certainly be missed!
My sympathies to her family.
March 23, 2020
Ruth was a member of our Plainview Community Club and was president from from 1979 to 1981. She recently attended a meeting where a few retired members were honored. She was an amazing woman and a joy to be around.
Ron & Ruth Hughes
March 22, 2020
We knew Ruth with our visits at St Mark. She was a very special person.She had a quick wit & a wonderful sense of humor.
We pray for her & the people who watched over her.
Ron & Ruth Hughes