Longtime Yakima resident Ruth Estella Wegeleben died at her residence in Olympia, WA on July 8, 2019 at the age of 98.
Ruth was born on May 3, 1921 in Pontiac, Michigan, the second of seven children born to Rev. Guy and Frances Baldwin. In 1925 the family moved to Tieton, Washington where Rev. Baldwin was assigned a pastorate at an Evangelical church. In 1929, the family moved to Spokane, Washington where he became the pastor of Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church. Ruth graduated from North Central High School and went on to graduate from Whitworth College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Home Economics.
On July 22, 1943 Ruth married then Second Lieutenant Harry H. Wegeleben who was from Chattaroy, Washington. Their marriage lasted over 60 years until Harry’s death in 2004. Harry was a flight instructor at advanced flying schools in Texas and Kansas, and Ruth moved with him. In 1944 when Harry was sent to Europe, Ruth remained at home in Spokane. Following the end of World War II, they lived in Moscow, Idaho from 1945 to 1949 while Harry attended the University of Idaho.
In 1949 the family moved to Ellensburg, Washington where Harry began his career as a federal employee with the Soil Conservation Service. In 1956 they moved to Yakima, where Ruth lived for the next 55 years. In 2011 she moved westward to be closer to family, first to Maple Valley, Washington where she lived until 2018, and then to Olympia where she remained until her death.
Ruth and Harry had four children, Bill, Carol, Ken and Tom Wegeleben. In addition they were foster parents to two children. She was a charter member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, and an active member of the Fruitvale Grange, Yakima Sunshine Good Sam Club, West Valley Women’s Club and the Yakima ARC. She was a longtime election poll worker. In addition to raising her family Ruth enjoyed cooking and crafting and playing cards. She was a killer at two-handed pinochle. She enjoyed playing golf and was an avid fan of Gonzaga basketball, the Seattle Mariners, and Seattle Seahawks. She was most disappointed when the Sonics left Seattle. Ruth shared Harry’s love of travel and they traveled the world, often on a moment’s notice. In addition to traveling in their motor home across the US, Canada and Mexico, their travels included Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, the Middle East, Indonesia, the Caribbean, and the Panama Canal.
Ruth is remembered by her family, friends and caregivers as a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who possessed a beautiful smile, tender heart, warm wit and selfless disposition. She is deeply missed.
Survivors include her loving son Bill Wegeleben of Olympia; two grandchildren, Shellie Harrison and Jason Wegeleben of Shelton; five great-grandchildren, Conner Pfaff, Christine Pfaff, Carriline Pfaff, Corben Harrison and Caitilyn Harrison of Shelton; a foster son and daughter, Robert Fielding of Gig Harbor and Tammie Fielding of Yakima, and numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband; children Carol, Ken and Tom; and siblings Paul Baldwin, Phil Baldwin, John Baldwin, Esther Coolbaugh, Dave Baldwin, and Jean Comstock.
A graveside service will be held at 11 am Thursday July 18 at West Hills Memorial Park in Yakima. Friends are invited to view photos, get directions and share memories at www.flintofts.com, Flintoft’s Funeral Home, 425-392-6444.