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Obituary of Ruth Jordan Rose
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And I, I took the one less travelled by.
And that has made all the difference."
Ruth also took the road less travelled by. Born in a valley of the Rocky Mountains in the first half of the Twentieth Century, she adopted the faith and principles of her pioneer ancestors, but her life was not simply a product of her environment. Her accomplishments went well beyond the norm for those who were born in her place and time. She graduated from the University of Utah in 1961, when fewer than 7% of U.S. women obtained a four-year college degree. She filled a two year mission to Peru for her church when fewer than 5% of Latter-day Saint women chose such service, then returned to Idaho for marriage in a temple while most young women in the area married shortly after high school in other locations. While helping her husband through college, she began a family of six children when the norm was two. She strengthened the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in six countries, learned to speak two foreign languages fluently and carried the joy of music to three continents. As a registered nurse, she healed and comforted the sick and taught the healthy how to stay well. She did her best to live her life in accordance with what she believed her Heavenly Father wanted her to do with the opportunities and talents he gave her.
Ruth Jordan was born in the LDS Hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho October 30, 1939, the third child and second daughter of Charles Lloyd Jordan and Louesa Redd Jordan. She spent her first eighteen years on an eighty-acre farm in the small community of Milo, northeast of Idaho Falls.
At the time Ruth was born, the family lived in a two-room, part log and part board house with no indoor plumbing or insulation, where electric lights had only recently been installed. When she was about four, her father completed a new three-bedroom white frame home on the property with a basement, plumbing and electricity. She was preceded in the family by an older sister, Louesa and an older brother, Paul, and was followed by a younger sister, Thirza. The farm produced hay, wheat and specialty crops such as clover seed when prices for them were good. Livestock on the farm included a few cows, a flock of chickens, occasionally pigs, and the mainstay, a herd of sheep raised for wool and meat. From her early childhood she began helping on the farm, learning to drive a tractor, feeding the livestock, and caring for sickly lambs. Her favorite pet was a magpie that learned to talk and loved to tease.
When she entered school she was the smallest member of her class, but she could outrun even the boys. When Ruth was in fourth grade, a piano teacher offered lessons in Idaho Falls and her parents signed her up. They took her and her sister to their lessons weekly for many years and both became accomplished musicians, giving recitals, playing the organ for church services, and accompanying choir programs and musical plays. Ruth would go on to accompany and lead congregational and choir singing, teach piano to private and school music students, give piano concerts and play for community choir programs and musicals in several countries. She also sang and was a member of the Mormon Choir of Washington, D.C.
After graduation from high school, Ruth entered Ricks College as a nursing student, obtaining a two-year degree and qualifying as a registered nurse. She went on to obtain her bachelor’s degree at the University of Utah. She turned down a marriage proposal to fulfill a mission for her church in Peru. It was there that her future husband first saw her seated at a piano accompanying a soloist in O Holy Night. On completing their missions, Doug, who was a student at San Diego State, got in touch with Ruth while she was employed as a registered nurse at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake and asked if he could come to Utah and see her. On his second trip in December, 1963, he proposed marriage. They were married the following August in the Idaho Falls temple. Ruth then got a job as a public health nurse in San Diego and helped get Doug through both his degrees, the second one in Eugene, Oregon. Their first two children, Angela and Edmund, were born before he finished.
In 1968 the family moved to Virginia where Doug would begin training for a career in the Foreign Service. While there, Ruth gave birth to her third child, Teresa. In addition to her role as a mother, Ruth became a diplomatic spouse, with heavy responsibilities for attendance at official functions and hosting dinners, receptions and other events in her home. In Brazil she learned Portuguese from the household help, taught medical English courses at the bi-national center and hosted film showings for dignitaries when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. In Peru she gave piano concerts and organized a musical theater program using talent provided by exchange students. She gave birth to Cristina in a primitive hospital where construction workers broke a pipe and flooded their room. In Thailand she served as secretary of the American Women’s Association and joined an international choir. Bangkok provided a much improved hospital for the birth of her son Paul. In Venezuela she served as the substitute nurse for the U.S. embassy. When her household help quit just before she had to host an important dinner, she took over meal preparation and taught the children how to serve the guests. In India she taught music at the American school and accompanied community theater productions of “The Music Man” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” In most of these countries she held church positions that required her to lead and train local members. In Natal, Brazil, where there was no branch of the church and Chiang Mai, Thailand, where the services were in Thai, she provided most of the religious instruction for her children. During home-country assignments in Washington, D.C., the family lived in McLean, Virginia, where Ruth gladly exchanged household help for the opportunity to be a full-time mother and full-service housewife. Here she gave birth to her sixth child, Warren, and was able to spend more time with her children, gardening, music and church service. A newborn grandson, Nathan, became a legal dependent, extending her years rearing children to 47 by the time he became independent.
In 1993 when Doug retired, the family moved to Boise, Idaho. Their home on a half acre in the foothills became a neighborhood showplace thanks to Ruth’s beautiful flower gardens. A large vegetable garden and several fruit trees gave her a lot of produce to freeze and can in the fall. In 1998 she and Doug received a call to serve a three year mission to India and Nepal to establish Latter-day Saint Charities. They developed and administered humanitarian projects in both countries from an office in New Delhi. When Nathan was not in school there, she divided her time between child care and taking the lead with support for health programs. On her return to Boise she began service as a volunteer with Meals on Wheels and the Health District’s TB clinic. During the next several years she served in many church callings and supported Doug in his nine-year term as president of the Boise East Stake. Not long afterward they sold their home and left for New Jersey on another mission, serving in a small Spanish-speaking branch in Tom’s River.
By the time of their return to Idaho, Ruth began to show signs of mild cognitive impairment and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She and Doug bought a home in Meridian, closer to their Idaho-based children and lived there for three years before it became apparent that additional care would be needed soon. They moved to an independent living condo at a senior community in Meridian, the 24th move of their marriage. As Ruth’s dementia progressed, she required more care than could be provided in the home, so when vaccinations for the Covid virus became available and visits reopened, she was moved to the Memory Care unit just a few yards from the condo where Doug continued to live. During much of this time, daughters Teresa and Angela provided support for their mother and respite for their father. In late 2022, after a light case of COVID, her capabilities declined sharply and she lost her mobility and speaking ability. She passed away April 6, 2023 at the Edgewood Spring Creek Senior Living Community in Meridian, Idaho. She is survived by her husband, six children, twenty grand-children and eight great-grandchildren, one born on the day she died.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ruth Rose, please visit Tribute Store