Ruby was born to John H. and Katie Ensz Friesen in American Falls, Idaho, the 8th child in a family of nine children. Sister Margaret was a little over a year older and a special relationship developed between the two; especially since Ruby was skipped ahead a grade and they both took the same classes from third grade through the second year of college.
Ruby grew up on a farm. Her chores included gathering eggs, bringing the cows home for the evening milking, carrying well water and ditch water into the house, weeding and picking many vegetables in the summer, and picking the many strawberries and raspberries. She also hoed weeds in the potato fields and picked potatoes at harvest time. German was used at home, but Ruby and her siblings spoke English to each other.
Family was always important to Ruby. She spent many holidays traveling home to be with her parents and siblings. The Friesen family began a tradition of reunions every three years starting in 1979 and she attended all the reunions except the last one in 2018.
At the age of 16, Ruby attended Bethel College in N. Newton, Kansas, to prepare to be a teacher. After one year, she returned to Idaho to attend Albion State Normal School to get her teaching certificate. Ruby taught four years and then returned to Bethel to graduate. She then went on to library school at the University of Denver.
Ruby began her library career in Twin Falls, Idaho, and in 1952 was hired at Salem Public Library. She chose Salem because she wanted to stay in the western part of the United States close to family and wanted to go to a city with a Mennonite church. She worked at the Salem Library for almost 33 years as a reference librarian and at the time of her retirement as Assistant Director. She continued to volunteer at the library for another thirteen years.
Before starting work in Salem, Ruby decided to do a year of voluntary service with MCC Mennonite Central Committee. She was an activity director at a mental hospital in Reedley, California.
Ruby enjoyed traveling throughout her life. She traveled to many different states in the United States and to a number of foreign countries with both family and close friends.
Salem Mennonite Church became her church family in 1977. She helped begin the Salem Mennonite Book Club in 1991 and also served as church librarian and historian. She faithfully attended until her move to Mt. Angel Towers in 2008. Her friends Sara and Al Lind took Ruby to church every month after her move to the Towers. Her strong belief in God was instrumental throughout her life and in all her decisions.
Mt. Angel Towers was Ruby’s home from 2008 until her death. She enjoyed her view of Mt. Hood from her window and a number of activities, which included Beanbag Baseball, Sunday evening church services and all social activities. Her favorite games to play with friends included Scrabble, UpWords and Boggle. She was very hard to beat.
Ruby is survived by sixteen nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, all eight of her siblings and two nephews.
Thank you to Mt. Angel Towers for her care over the past sixteen years and to Provident Benedictine Hospice. A memorial will be held at a later date. If you wish to remember Ruby with a gift in her memory, you may donate to MCC, Bethel College in North Newton, KS, Salem Mennonite Church, or the Salem Public Library. The donation can be made to Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service, 605 Commercial S.E., Salem, OR 97301.
Guest Book Entries
A lovely lady, always! I worked at Woodburn Public Library and admired Ruby as a professional colleague.