Ruth N. Johnson

Ruth N. Johnson, 96, died surrounded in the love of her family on Feb. 1, 2018 in Billings, Montana.

Delivered by a neighbor/midwife, Ruth was born the fourth child of five, to Herman and Helen DeVries on a dry land farm near Roberts, Montana.

At the age of 4, her younger brother Martin died and also her mother. Her Aunt Grace Battezore and grandmother Amelia DeVries cared for her briefly after her mother’s death. She was no stranger to hard work growing up, as Ruth and her three sisters worked beside their dad in the fields during spring planting and fall harvest. They herded livestock, milked cows, and cared for a large flock of poultry.

Ruth rode bareback with one of her DeVries sisters or traveled by wagon in bad weather to attend the Cherry Springs and Victory Schools. After passing her eighth grade exam, she was determined to complete high school and did so in 1939. She walked, rode her horse, stayed with grandparents and her sister Dorothy, and friends Susie and Chet Olels. She dreamed of studying nursing. However, she stayed at home and cooked and cared for her grandfather, Lammert DeVries. In the fall of 1939, Ruth married William E. (Ed) Johnson, her high school sweetheart.

When Ed’s father Bill purchased family interest in farm property in the spring of 1942, Ruth and Ed moved from the John Johnson farm to the former Albert Johnson farm. They added two daughters to their family: first, Sandra (Sandy) and later, Carol. During their farming years, Ruth and Ed grew timothy/clover hay crops, raised Hereford cattle as well as poultry and Shorthorn milk cows.

In 1950’s they bought Columbia ewes and later continued raising both cattle and Targhee sheep. Ruth loved animals and spent a great deal of time caring for them.

Ruth fished with her family, took trips to Cooney Dam and did lake fishing with friends. Ruth awoke to the sound of the radio and country music her entire life. Ruth loved being in the outdoors and saving recipes and heirloom seeds. Along with collecting inspirational and humorous writing snippets and teapots, she found pleasure riding country roads to look for wild berries and abandoned roadside apple trees. No one left Ruth's home without a cup of coffee and a tasty home baked treat. Throughout her life, Ruth loved making pies, baked goods, and jelly and gardened. She smiled with pride when showing her latest project; she spent a lifetime creating beautiful traditional quilts in calico and designed and sewed beautiful clothing for her daughters and the orphan dolls she restored. She donated her plants, produce, baked goods and quilts and gave quilts as gifts in celebration of newborns.

Her desire to become a nurse was fulfilled in 1968 when she received certification as a licensed practical nurse under an educational program at the hospital. Dr. James Kane instructed the experienced nurses aides to meet the need for the opening of a new extended care wing. Although she worked in most nursing-related areas of the Carbon County Memorial Hospital, Ruth spent much of her time working in long-term care. She continued in this profession for nearly 29 years. Of all of her nursing duties, she best loved caring for newborns and their mothers. Her gentle giving and caring spirit was always a part of those days.

Preceding Ruth in death are husband, William Edward; a younger brother, Martin; sisters, Louise (Bill) Stapleton, Dorothy (Francis) Pihlaja, and Ethel (Frank) Cestnik; a half-brother, Herman, and two half-sisters, Beverly and Emma. Ruth’s surviving family include two daughters, Sandra (Gary) Barker and Carol (Dexter) Wester, two granddaughters, Jenny (Doug) Koffler and Kimberly Wester; two great- grandsons, Cooper and Nash Koffler; and three half- sisters; Loretta, Gladys, and Marcella as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

A Celebration of Life will be held at the Roberts Methodist Church at 2 p.m. on Feb. 17, 2018. Memorial contributions may be made to: The Ruth N. Johnson Memorial Nursing Scholarship, MSU Billings Foundation, 1500 University Drive, Billings, MT 59101, or charity of choice. Internment will take place at a later date.

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The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

Toll-Free: 800-735-8843

Open: Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.