Visitation is Friday, Feb. 18, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a rosary at 7 p.m. at McLaren's Chapel in West Des Moines, and a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, Feb. 19, at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in West Des Moines. Burial will follow at Resthaven Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the Arthritis Foundation or the Alzheimer's Association.
She was born in Lincoln, Ill., to Rudy and Nita Ebel on Feb. 25, 1928, growing up among the cornfields of rural Illinois while attending Lincoln Public Schools. Upon graduating from Lincoln Community High School in 1945, Ruth attended Valparaiso University for two years before transferring to St. Louis City Hospital School of Nursing where she graduated in 1951. While there, Ruth met, fell in love with, and then married Matthew Parlyn "Pat" Lawler Jr., a medical resident at the hospital.
They settled in Des Moines, where Pat was an obstetrician-gynecologist and Ruth was a stay-at-home mom. Together they raised nine children: Mary Lynn, Nancy, Katie, Matthew, Michael, Mollie, Patrick, Robert and Jamie with the help of their beloved Matzie (Mrs. Mary Robertson).
When Pat died unexpectedly in 1979, Ruth resumed her nursing career and finished raising the four youngest children on her own. Her efforts paid off; she was the proud mother of five physicians, a lawyer, a nurse, a special education teacher and an actress turned bookstore owner.
After seeing her youngest child, Jamie, graduate from medical school and married, Ruth moved to Jacksonville, Fla. to enjoy warmer weather and the company of her daughter Katie and her family. She returned to live in Des Moines, in 2007, where she lived until Nov. 2010, when she moved to Cherokee to be close to her daughter, Mollie. Ruth lived in Cherokee until her death at the age of 82.
Ruth enjoyed living life to the fullest and loved to travel to Europe, Hawaii and to the homes of her children. She loved the theatre, the symphony, fine wine, good conversation as well as her children, 45 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and good friends. She believed in tackling life with a backbone and a funny bone and was an inspiration to all who knew her.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Matthew Parlyn Lawler, Jr; son Dr. Michael Lawler; her parents, Rudy and Nita Ebel, and her brother, Walther Ebel.
She is survived by her children and their spouses, Mary Lynn and Frank Talboy, Boise, Idaho; Nancy and Mark Dickhute, Omaha, Neb.; Katie and Dr. Paul Pettit, Jacksonville, Fla.; Dr. Matthew and Karen Lawler, Des Moines; Mollie and Jay Loughlin, Cherokee; Dr. Patrick and Kaye Lawler, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Dr. Robert and Paula Lawler, Lemont, Ill.; and Dr. James and Angela Lawler, West Des Moines. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Matthew, Tara, Katie Ruth and Rebeccah Talboy; Andrew and Christopher Dickhute; Karrie Pettit, Lacey and Steve Perez, Bonnie and Carey Stanley; Paul, Meredith and Colleen Pettit; Kathleen, Kelly, Mary Pat, Christine and Matthew Lawler; John and fiancÚ, Amy Freders, James, Nicholas and Patrick Loughlin; Sean, Maggie, Kara, Brian, Elena, Alexei and Rudy Lawler; Mary Kate, Danny, Paddy, Sheila, Timmy, Billy, John Paul, Michael, Mary Therese and Tommy Lawler; Mollie, Annie, Madeline, John, Mary and Maureade Lawler, and three great-grandchildren, Elena and Steven Perez and Carey Dale Stanley III.