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Ruth Ellen Thomas

December 27, 1924 July 15, 2020
Ruth Ellen Thomas
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Obituary for Ruth Ellen Thomas

Ruth, age 95 of Denver, Colorado.

Ruth Ellen Gustafson Carter Thomas, aka Gussie, was born in Des Moines, IA on December 27, 1924. She was the second child of Allen L and Ruby L Gustafson. She graduated from Lincoln High School in Des Moines, IA and received her Bachelor of Science in Home Economics Education from Iowa State University in 1946.

Her first teaching job was in Waukee, IA, where she met Willard E. Carter, who she married July 15, 1950. They had two daughters, Jane Ellen Crosson (Larry-deceased) and Nancy Evelyn Ellerbrook (Paul). In 1965, she married Richard S. Thomas. Their daughter is Gretchen Louise Thomas.

After marrying Willard, she taught Home Economics in the Fort Dodge (IA) school system. She was a good cook, but her love was sewing and tailoring. She taught Tailoring in the Fort Dodge night school. After her first two children were born, she was able to stay home with them.

Richard’s job with the United States State Department took she and her family to Bangkok, Thailand for three and one-half years. Overall, it was a great and eye-opening experience for each of us, all in different ways.

Upon returning from Thailand, she separated from Dick, and settled in Denver, where her younger brother, Robert and his family lived. She actively searched for a teaching position to support her girls, but found that since she had had breast cancer, she could not be hired. She worked as an alteration’s assistant at an upscale dress shop along with teaching at Gretchen’s preschool, oftentimes working past her normal hours.

She was hired by Cherry Creek School District in the early ‘70’s as a middle school home economics teacher. During her tenure, she was selected to open two new middle schools as the district expanded.

All three of her daughters were able to go to college, in spite of her early struggle to make a living. She taught herself to do many “manly” things out of necessity, including siding her house one summer! She enjoyed first and foremost, sewing, making both Jane and Nancy’s wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses for each of her girls. She had a vegetable garden many summers, and was proud of her asparagus and raspberries, and not very willing to share when they were in season!

We all would agree that she sacrificed her time and talents for us – making McGregor’s Beggars costumes for both Nancy and Gretchen, wedding dresses, feeding our pets, babysitting her grandchildren. She was so thrilled to also have three great-grandchildren, and personally got to spend time with them as late as last Thanksgiving.

Her faith was with her all her life, believing Jesus to be the Son of God and her personal Savior. She was an active member most recently at Central Christian Church until her health prevented her from attending.

Last fall, she was awarded a 75-year membership certificate in Chi Omega, her sorority in college. Some of the local Chi O’s came bearing not only her certificate, but flowers, cake pops and balloons to celebrate the occasion with her and have stayed in touch with her.

She is survived by her sister, Dorothy (Jack) Folsom, her sister-in-law, Judy (Don-deceased), her three daughters, three grandchildren: Derek (Rachel) Ellerbrook, Matthew (Britany) Ellerbrook, and Brigitta Anne Lazuran, three great-grandchildren: Grant Matthew, Carter Matthew and Anneke Grace Ellerbrook, and eight nieces and nephews.

She will be interred in Glendale Municipal Cemetery in Des Moines, IA at a later date.

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