CLAY CENTER, Kan. -- Ruth Roberta (Ruhlen) Butterfield, 101, died Dec. 28, 2020 of complications from Covid-19.  

Ruth was born May 12, 1919 at Bethany Hospital in Kansas City to Rev. Charles Lester Ruhlen and Edith May (Stafford) Ruhlen.  The family lived in McLouth at the time, and moved to several other small towns in Kansas throughout Ruth’s childhood, as her father was a Methodist minister.  Ruth always said that when the trunks were brought out, the kids knew there was a move coming. She graduated from Labette County Community High School in 1937 while living in Altamont, Kan.

 She attended Kansas State University, where she pledged Delta Kappa Gamma. She graduated in 1941 with a degree in Home Economics and a minor in Music. She was a talented and versatile musician, playing piano, organ, violin, and trombone. Her first teaching job was at Tonganoxie High School where she taught Home Economics and then Music for four years.  It was there that she met a fellow teacher, Edwin L. Butterfield. On September 2, 1944, they were married in Philadelphia, Pa. while Ed was in the Navy. After WWII, Ruth and Ed moved to Junction City where they both taught high school. Their first two children, Edwin, Jr. and Ann, were born in Junction City.

 The family moved to Herington in 1950, where Ed was hired as principal of the high school and later became superintendent.  Ruth was a substitute teacher in Herington and then taught grade school Music in nearby Burdick. Children Susan and Brad were born in Herington.

 The family moved to Clay Center in 1962 when Ed became principal of the high school.  Ruth was a busy mom, but was a substitute teacher in Clay Center, and taught Music in Longford for several years. She then taught kindergarten in Wakefield for many years and enjoyed getting to know so many Wakefield children and their families. She retired from Wakefield Elementary School and treasured those memories throughout her life.

 On Saturday mornings one would usually find Ruth teaching piano lessons in her home, which she did until 2010. She also engaged her musical talents as organist and choir director for the Presbyterian Church in Herington, and choir director for nearly two decades at the Clay Center Baptist church.

 Ruth was a member of the Clay Center garden club, Mariners, and was a Rotary Ann.  She was a loyal member of PEO and was honored as a 50-year member while still serving as an officer.  She was active in the Clay Center Presbyterian Church, serving as an elder and choir member.  She and Ed coordinated the Red Cross Bloodmobile in Clay County, and were recognized in a special ceremony for over 40 years of volunteer service.

 Ruth played bridge for many years, and also enjoyed sewing and flower gardening. In late summer, Ruth and Ed would be found in the kitchen canning and freezing fruit and home-grown veggies. She cherished memories of vacations to Colorado, whether camping, staying at Cascade Cottages, or visiting family there. She found the mountains peaceful and relaxing. Ruth is described by family members and friends as one of the kindest people they ever knew. She was hard-working, never uttered a negative word, had incredible patience, was generous with her time and talents, and taught by example.

 The Clay Center Presbyterian Manor was Ruth’s home for nearly the last seven years of her life.  The family has great appreciation for the loving care she received there, and admires the dedication of the staff during the extraordinary circumstances of Covid-19.

 Ruth was preceded in death by her husband, Edwin Butterfield, in 2011; son, Edwin, Jr.; great-grandson, Nathan; her brothers, Stafford and Ralph; and sisters, Lylas and Carole.

She is survived by her daughters, Ann Burkett (Joe) of Fort Collins, Colo., Susan Butterfield (Diana Robertson) of Lawrence, Kan.; and son Brad Butterfield (Lori) of Centennial, Colo.; daughter-in-law, Cheryl (Gilmore) Butterfield, Estacada, Ore.; seven grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.

 Visitation was held at Neill Schwensen-Rook Funeral Home in Clay Center from 4-6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 1st.  

A family graveside service was held on Saturday, January 2nd at 2 p.m. in the Overbrook, Kan. cemetery.

The family suggests donations to the Clay Center Presbyterian Manor or the Clay Center Presbyterian Church in care of the funeral home.

Paid notice.