Ruth Ruelke

Obituary of Ruth Anne Ruelke

Ruth Ruelke of Greentown PA, formerly of Newburgh NY, and other swell places, died comfortably at home with family at her side on January 21st, six years after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was 71. During Ruth’s six-year journey with the illness that took her, she lived life to the fullest. The cancer may have limited her, but it never defined her. When she was first diagnosed, she looked at the doctor and said, “I don’t know of anyone who survived pancreatic cancer.” He gave a three-word response – “Ruth Bader Ginsberg.” With that, Ruth Anne Ruelke never looked back with anything but gratitude. Born in Cleveland, Ohio to Margaret and Bill Etling, Ruth lived much of her adult life in Danbury, CT where she raised two daughters – Laura Stillabower and Kerry (Stillabower) Pieretti – and where she worked as a City of Danbury health inspector “chasing rats, roaches, and rubbish,” as she put it. In 2004, Ruth married Steve Ruelke and moved with him to the City of Newburgh. A passel of people remember Ruth as a soft-spoken, kind-hearted, compassionate, creative, witty, and tough-as-nails woman who accepted others as they were and willingly served and honored those who others had thrown away. Nowhere was that more evident than at Ecclesia Ministries of Newburgh where you’d find Ruth playing her flute at “street church” every Sunday afternoon beside Steve, her anam cara . . . Or just about any night serving up dinner to 50 or 60 friends at the drop-in center the pair had initially opened in their home . . . Or finding fresh bedding for a neighbor who needed to get off the street. Ruth took delight in tending her plants, wandering through the woods, exploring the world, and holding hands with Steve. But her greatest delights were her grandkids, Alex, Irene, Gus, and Ophelia. In addition to those terrific kids, her daughters and Steve, Ruth is survived by her favorite son-in-law Brandon Pieretti, three sisters – Janet Peterson, Martha Golden, and Debbie Kratkowski – and a boat load of friends. Ruth chose to be cremated. When the earth fresh with spring green, we’ll gather at the edge of a pine grove where she and Steve often went to breathe deeply, watch the sunset and give thanks. Ruth asked that you join her in making a donation to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at www.pancan.org.

Final Resting Place

Lake Region Crematory
PO Box 7
Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania, United States
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