Cynthia Ruth Wirth, 92, of Willow Springs, Missouri, went to her heavenly home on Saturday, August 6, 2022. She was born January 18, 1930, on the home place built by Grandpa Valentine “Volley” Fuhr in Hamlet, Illinois to her good and loving parents, Ernest “Doc” and Appalonia Lona (Fuhr) Close. She was married to Jack Wirth on July 19, 1952 and to this union two children were born, Dirk and Eric Wirth.
Ruth will go to her earthly rest just a mile or two from that very special home place. Ruth celebrated that through the extraordinary efforts of her nephew and family. The “homeplace” is now a thriving Century Farm.
Ruth was known by many names, Ruth, Ruthie, Mom, MooMoo, and Grandma Moo. Ruth displayed the character of her biblical namesake; devoted, self-sacrificing, loyal, truthful, encourager, and always loving. She never met a stranger. She attended the Hamlet School for four years. The first school (log cabin) which she reached by horseback, was built by Hamlet Cooper, the founder of Hamlet. Ruth graduated from Reynolds Grade School in 1944 and was an Aledo high school graduate a (Green Dragon) in 1948. She enjoyed the Hamlet Handy Helpers 4-H. She was the church and the high school music department pianist and wrote the song, “Aledo High”, which was sung for 20 years. She attended the World-Wide Youth Rally at Grinnell, IA in 1947. Her art was requested for the proms all four years. She was a recipient of the DAR award and “Citizen of Tomorrow” with a trip to Chicago. She entered her art work in the Mercer County fair and received prize money. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Dubuque in 1952. She majored in English and Education and minored in Music and Art. She received the honor of “Who’s Who in American Colleges.”
As a senior Ruth met her husband Jack Wirth, a Navy Vet. on the GI Bill. Jack and Ruth were married at Hamlet Presbyterian Church, July 19, 1952, and reached their 70th wedding anniversary last month. The reception was held on the lawn of her home place. They drove to Ft. Collins, CO after a reception at Jack’s parents, Alice and John Wirth’s home in Fox River Grove, IL. Jack got his bachelor’s degree in Entomology at CO A&M, Ft. Collins, CO, now Colorado State University. Dirk was born in 1953. Eric was born in Elgin, IL in 1959.
Ruth taught high school World History and P.E. in Galena, IL. Jack and Ruth sang in the choir and were youth leaders at the South Presbyterian Church. After three years in Galena, Jack’s job was Quality Control for Vulcan Materials near Chicago. They were involved in starting a Presbyterian church in Villa Park, IL. She baked bread as a ministry. Ruth was Cub Scout den mother in Wheaton, IL and Jack Scout Master. Ruth tutored and continued education at Elmhurst College for Modern Math. Jack and Ruth taught Sunday School for three-year old’s at the Presbyterian Church in Elmhurst, IL.
Ruth and her two sons were involved in cleaning up a filthy underpass on North Ave. and Elm St. A walkway used by children to get to school. Neighbors donated paint and Ruth sketched childhood characters from stories and the neighborhood children painted. It made their Chicago news.
The Mayo clinic determined that Ruth’s health required a spacesuit if remaining in Illinois or a move to a 7,000’ elevation. They bought their ranch in Glade Park, CO and lived there for 20 years. Both were teachers and Ruth ran a summer camp for handicapped students on the ranch for five summers with State Grants while Jack attended Adams State and received his Masters in Education. They helped start a fire department on Glade Park after two fires. While there, Ruth cared for handicapped children (Foster Care) in their home and also ran Respite Care for families. They received a plaque “Going the Extra Mile” from the Mesa County Retarded Citizens. Special Education Endorsement was from Northern Colorado University, Greeley, CO.
Ruth was the pianist for the Baptist church held at the old Pipe Line School, in Glade Park and the Handy Chapel, the black citizens church of Grand Junction. Jack, Ruth and sons were involved in Special Olympics. They sold Christmas trees from the front half of their ranch and earned enough money to go to Hawaii. Jack was a Rescue and Fire Volunteer and Ruth and the grandchildren helped provide food and water for the fire-fighters. They worked at the outdoor movies with the food concessions and helped in the Baptist Vacation Bible School. Ruth faced a mountain lion with a large stick and rock and saved a calf. Their ranch sold and they moved to the Navajo Reservation, first at Tsaile, AZ for one year and at Keams Canyon, AZ and taught for another seven years at Jeddito. Jack started the computer program and Ruth directed the Special Education program and Special Olympics. They retired in 1992 and moved to North Palm Beach, FL and helped start a church, Palm Beach Community Church. Both were ushers and joined the Bible study groups. They started the Lunch Bunch for older church members and helped in the Christmas productions. Ruth started a sewing group which she made a comforter each year to be given as a recognition for helping the Shore Court Complex, where they lived. Ruth joined the dance, swim and art classes. Ruth wrote the devotionals for Trinity Circle Presbyterian Church and did their Bible study. They summered in Nutrioso, AZ until another fire and 12 bulldozers saved the community. Then moved to Houston, MO to be near water and Ruth did her water therapy in the Big Piney River and Baptist Church Camp. Then moved to Holbrook, AZ to be close to Dirk teaching at the Hopi High School. In 2016 Jack and Ruth moved to her last community and home in Willow Springs, MO to join Dirk on their farm. Ruth was active in church activities at CrossWay Fellowship and WestSide Family Life Center, and the monthly Presbyterian bible study. She made once again cherished friends until 2020 and was unable to return in the remaining two years for health reasons. Ruth relearned to walk, read, write, and feed herself three times due to accidents and health issues. She created family booklets and the quarterly “Gleanings” for family and friends. Her publication was sent out faithfully for over a quarter of a century to the many communities they had been a part of.
Ruth is preceded in death by her parents; brother, Don Close; sister, Jean Ketzle and son, Eric Wirth.
Ruth is survived by her husband Jack, and one son Dirk; six grandchildren, John, Joshua, and Aaron Wirth of CO, Audrey Wirth Phelps of AK, Jasmine and Staci Wirth of AZ; one granddaughter under our wing, Dina Herrera Samuel of NC; 22 great-grandchildren; and nine great-greats.
Ruth had hoped to be a missionary but health would not have been wise so she served her Lord wherever she was. Ruth loved people and tried to see the inner goodness in each person. One of her little Sunday school students called her, “Love”. One of her Navajo students called her, “Big Smile” and many called her “Grandma”. The Navajo honored her by calling her, “Salt Bush”. As one explained, that wherever she went she added flavor.
Funeral services will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 10, 2022, at CrossWay Fellowship Church, Willow Springs, Missouri, with Pastors Dennis Walton and Jeff Conger officiating, under the direction of Yarber Mortuary, Willow Springs, with visitation prior to the service at 6:00 p.m. Another visitation will be held on Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. at Speer Funeral Home, Aledo, Illinois. Graveside services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 13, 2022, at Hamlet Cemetery, Hamlet, Illinois with Harry Losey officiating, under the direction of Speer Funeral Home, Aledo, Illinois. Condolences may be expressed at www.yarbermortuary.com or www. speerfuneralhome.com.