With profound sadness we announce the passing of Ruth L. Russell, our loving and devoted mother and friend to all whose lives she touched. Age 90, she died peacefully at home on July 9, 2019 from apparent heart failure, following a courageous two-year battle with cancer, diabetes and kidney disease. She faced her debilitating illnesses with an incredibly strong will, and the determination one could only expect from one of The Greatest Generation. She drew this strength solely from her lifelong, deep and undying faith in God, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Full of grace and remarkable charm to her last day, Ruth was a woman of great faith. She was born into a family, rich in Lutheran heritage, in the quaint Rio Grande Valley German village of Mercedes, Texas to Reverend Arnold and Valeria Bartling on January 12, 1929. In addition to her father, and dating back to the mid 1800’s, her grandfather and most of their fathers and grandfathers, as well as many of her uncles and great-uncles were also Lutheran ministers, many of whom served as professors and one president at a then small Lutheran college which became Concordia Lutheran University in Chicago, Ill. Her family moved from Mercedes to Houston during the end of the Great Depression, and there, as a young woman, Ruth met and married the sweetheart of her life, Billy J. Russell. They were married at Trinity Lutheran Church in Houston December 20, 1947. Billy, a chemical salesman in the oil patch days, preceded her in death on June 18, 1994, after 47 years of marriage. Preceding her in death also were her aforementioned parents, two brothers, Robert Bartling of Florida, Victor Bartling of Minnesota, and a sister Estelle Riden of Houston.
As was typical of oil field families in the ‘60’s, and after many transfers throughout West Texas, Bill and Ruth and family ended up in Hobbs in 1969. Ruth became a lifelong member of Grace Lutheran Church in Hobbs, where she faithfully served in many capacities throughout the years, with a talent which suited her humble servant heart. Along this time, Ruth became a dedicated servant of the New Mexico Health Department in Hobbs, serving three generations of under-served families in Lea County throughout her 25 year tenure as an administrative clerk. This field of endeavor, too, suited her servant heart. Ruth retired from the Hobbs Health Department in 1996, and enjoyed her retirement years spent with family and friends and her church. During her retirement, she was also a 10-year volunteer with the Salvation Army food distribution mission between 1996 and 2006, never missing her day of volunteering, and making wondering friends throughout those years. Never one for small talk or the mundane, Ruth enjoyed studying her Bible and history in general, engaging in mostly deep and meaningful conversations with her lifelong friends. She was also a remarkable crossword ‘wizard,’ one of those envied people who could complete the daily crossword in ink, with no mistakes, usually within one hour. Incidentally and quite unusual, her final completed no-mistake-in-ink crossword puzzle on the day of her death was done in red ink. Perhaps it was the only pen handy.
As a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Ruth is survived by her three children: daughter, Susan Hawkins and her husband, Dr. Wayne Hawkins, of Kenedy, Texas; son Robert Russell, of Round Rock, Texas; and son, Ken Russell, of Hobbs. Ruth thoroughly enjoyed and looked forward to routinely getting photos and progress reports about her wonderful five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Along the lines of the well-known Will Rogers quote, Ruth truly never met a person she didn’t like. Throughout all her dealings with people, both in private and in public, Ruth exemplified gracious kindness, a giving and generous spirit, and she never a spoke badly about anybody (at least out loud!).
A celebration of Ruth’s life and deep Christian faith will be held at 10:30 a.m. on July 27, 2019, at Grace Lutheran Church, Hobbs, NM., with a one-hour visitation prior to the service. As an expression of sympathy, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod World Missions https://www.lcms.org/givenow/worldmission
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Wold Missions