University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Remembering Ruth Smith

Ruth N. Smith, retired administrative secretary in the Psychology Department, of Park Rapids, died suddenly Sunday night, May12, 2013 at St. Joseph's Area Health Services in Park Rapids, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. She was 85.  Ruth-N-Smith

Ruth Elaine Nesheim was born March 14, 1928, in Jefferson, Iowa, to Victor and Sarah Nesheim. She attended Iowa schools and college, majoring in journalism at the University of Iowa.

She worked many years at the Lewiston (Idaho) Morning Tribune and the Fargo Forum as a reporter and copy editor. She then worked 25 years at UND's Psychology Department, retiring in 1987.

She met Glenn Smith at the University of Iowa. They married Dec. 26, 1948. They lived in Iowa, Washington, D.C., North Dakota and Idaho while Glenn pursued a doctorate degree in history and worked in the political arena. They eventually settled in Grand Forks, N.D. where both Glenn and Ruth worked at the University of North Dakota.

After retirement, Glenn and Ruth moved to Harlingen, Texas, for six months and then to their cabin on Big Mantrap Lake for six months. Glenn passed away in 1998. Ruth continued to go south for the winters. She was an avid golfer and played daily. She sold the Texas home in 2010 and remained in the Park Rapids area year-round, living with her daughter, Sarah Smith.

She was an active member of Trinity Episcopal and Presbyterian Church in Park Rapids, and served on committees there.

She was also involved in the Crazy Quilters and 8th Hour program at Century School, teaching quilting to youngsters.

A lover of the arts, she supported the Northern Light Opera Co. and many local musical and theater productions. The highlight of her year was attending the annual dance recital in Park Rapids.

She was an environmentalist and supported Big Mantrap Lake's loon preservation program. She and Glenn loved their life on Big Mantrap Lake, fishing and enjoying the wildlife. They golfed at Eagle View in Park Rapids and Ruth continued playing there after Glenn's passing.

She loved entertaining old friends from UND and invited her Texas friends north to see Hubbard County's lakes. They always took guests to Itasca State Park.

She was technologically proficient, embracing a computer at first glance. However, she frequently leaned on her children and grandchildren for "tech support," calling or emailing if she got into a bind as she delved into Internet and desktop publishing programs. She was impatient and wanted immediate service.

She was artistic and creative. She sewed, knitted and quilted. She loved attending quilt shows and shop hops with her daughter, Stacie Varnson.

She was a sports fanatic, watching hockey, baseball, football, golf and the Olympics on TV, then discussing them with anyone who would listen. A voracious reader, she loved books about history and historic figures. She loved Public Television and was a longtime supporter in three states. She was a political junkie and member of League of Women Voters. She was philanthropic and instilled a strong sense of charitable giving in her children and grandchildren.

She is survived by three daughters and a son, Susan (Stephen) Carroll of Bradenton, Fla., Sarah Smith of Park Rapids, Stacie (Clyde) Varnson of Dickinson, N.D., and Steven (Elaine) Smith of Rochester. She is also survived by three grandchildren, Catherine Smith (David Bohlander) of St. Paul, Paul Smith of Minneapolis and Ian Varnson of Grand Forks. Other immediate family include her sister, Frances (John) Markham of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; sister-in-law Johnny Nesheim of Richland, Wash., sister-in-law Matilda Nelson of Iowa; and dozens of nieces, nephews and cousins.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Glenn, her brother, George Nesheim and her parents Vic and Sarah Nesheim, all of Seattle; sister-in-law Irma Fukutaki of California and sister-in-law Gertrude Summa of Iowa.

She leaves behind a boatload of unfinished projects and a freezer full of mystery items and her beloved doggie Schnapps. She had a wicked sense of humor and loved to laugh.