A visitation was held Monday, Aug. 29, from 5-7 p.m. at the Celebration Center at Friendship Haven, 420 Kenyon Road, Fort Dodge. Services were held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, at St. Olaf Lutheran Church, 239 N. 11th St., Fort Dodge. Memorials may be sent to the Friendship Haven Memorial Foundation, 420 Kenyon Road, Fort Dodge, Iowa, 50501, or to Trinity Hospice, 2630 9th Ave. S., Fort Dodge, Iowa, 50501. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Gunderson Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Fort Dodge.
Ruth Marjorie Petersen was born Dec. 10, 1918, in Larchwood, Iowa, the daughter of Chris Petersen and Amelia Mengshol. Her father came to Hartington, Neb., from Denmark when he was 18 and her mother taught school in Hartington. Ruth was the youngest of three children who included Helen Petersen Anderson and Russell Petersen. The family returned to Hartington in 1927 when her father left banking to go into insurance. Ruth graduated from Hartington High School in 1936.
Her future husband, Walt Stevens, graduated from Cedar Catholic High School in Hartington and the two met in the fall of 1936 when they worked at the Cedar County News. Ruth was bookkeeper at the weekly newspaper and also wrote society items. The News was the start of Walt's 52-year career in newspaper journalism.
Ruth worked at the News until 1942 when she traveled with a longtime Larchwood friend to Texas to find a job, but became homesick and moved back to Hartington. Walt, meantime, joined the Army in early 1942 after the United States entered World War II and served in the European Theatre as an artillery captain for the next 3 ½ years.
After Walt's discharge from the Army in November 1945, they resumed dating and Walt proposed to her on her birthday, buying her a ring from money saved during his Army service and setting a wedding date for Valentine's Day. Walt took a reporting position at the Excelsior Springs, Mo., Standard, where he became editor and publisher, and they were married at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Excelsior Springs on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 1946.
Their son Paul and daughter Jan were born in Excelsior Springs and their son Dave was born in Fort Madison, Iowa, where they moved in 1949 when Walt became managing editor of the Daily Democrat. In early 1954, the young family moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa, when Walt was named managing editor of The Messenger. They moved into a house owned by former Messenger editor Granger Mitchell and lived at that house, on 11th Avenue North, for the next 50 years. They sold the house and moved into Friendship Haven in early 2003. Walt retired from The Messenger in 1998 and is editor emeritus of the newspaper.
Ruth was a member of St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Fort Dodge and a charter member of its altar guild. She was active in PEO and TTT, of which she served a year as president. She volunteered for many years at the gift shop at Trinity Hospital.
After her family, Ruth's passion was being a homemaker extraordinaire and phenomenal cook. She could "dress up" any room and enjoyed collecting and sharing recipes. She held a neighborhood Christmas cookie exchange for more than 25 years.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister, her brother and a great grandchild, Jocelyn.
Ruth is survived by her husband, Walter B. Stevens, of Fort Dodge; son Paul (Linda) Stevens of Lenexa, Kan., daughter Jan (Mike) Tracy of Cherokee, and son David (Cheryl) Stevens of Pittsboro, N.C.; grandchildren Sarah Tracy of Omaha, Neb., Jenny (Andy) Volanakis of Palo Alto, Calif., Molly (Travis) Templeton of Olathe, Kan., Jill (Darren) Kenyon of Red Wing, Minn., Kate (Andy) Eller of Lenoir, N.C., Jon Stevens of Seattle, Wash., Matt (Ali) Stevens of Albuquerque, N.M.; and great grandchildren Sophie and Brennan of Olathe, Max of Palo Alto, Lily of Lenoir, twins Hayden and Talon of Wichita, Kan., and Matteo, Isabella and Greyson of Albuquerque.
The family would like to thank the staff at the Gardens at Friendship Haven and at Trinity Hospice for the kind and loving care they provided Ruth in her final days.