Ruthella Birkby Barnard was born November 27, 1920 at the family home in Knox, Iowa, and died at the age of 97, on July13, 2018 in Sidney, Iowa. She married her Sidney High School sweetheart, Robert Jack (Bob) Barnard, in Sabetha, KS. They had five children: Larry (Diane) Barnard of Yuma, AZ; Luanne (Duane) Mannon of Monroe, WA; Bill Barnard of Wichita, KS; Michael (Cassandra McMaster) Barnard of Milwaukie, OR; and Tom Barnard of Kansas City, MO.
The family moved to various cities from Sidney to Omaha, Fremont, Tacoma, WA, and eventually back to the Midwest. Sidney, IA, was always home for Ruthella, as it was for her arents. Ruthella was a homemaker but also worked for Sheriff Al Christopher at the Sidney Courthouse, and later at the Sidney Argus Herald where she spent 36 years covering local and society news and handling proofreading.
Most people knew Ruthella as fun-loving and witty. She loved the outdoors, working in the yard, and as a youngster took hikes through the Iowa bluffs with her brothers. She adored her cousin, Marge Pinkerton, who was like a sister to her. Ruthella told many stories of together building a new “playhouse” each summer, hanging out at the courthouse square on Saturday nights, walking to Knox from Sidney, and enjoying many sleepovers.
Her husband, Bob, died of a heart attack at the age of 43, leaving Ruthella to raise their children alone. When her youngest, Tom, gave up his paper route, she took over the job delivering the Omaha World Herald to her neighbors, getting up at 5:30 to complete her route before then walking to work. A long-time member of the American Legion Auxiliary, she held the position of President one year, and also taught Sunday School at the United Methodist Church.
The family is grateful for Ruthella’s many caregivers at The Ambassador, who sustained her with kindness and care during her last years.
Among Ruthella’s survivors are her five children, fourteen grandchildren Steven Reddy, Andrea (Rico Stewart), Keith Coury, Kelley (Ken DeJong), Mollie (Eric Ziegler), Emily (Elliot Hartlerode), Andrew, Nicholas (Megan) Barnard; Coty, Alexis, Devon (Danielle) Barnard, Caitlin McMaster; Brooke and Blake Barnard; twelve great grandchildren Elijah Lee, Xavier and Jayden Stewart, Bradford Walzer, Zoe and Max Ziegler, Vladimir Hartlerode, Bowen Barnard, Peyton and Jazmyne Barnard, Tristan and Parker McMaster, along with one great great grandchild Brooklynn Bucklin. Ruthella is also survived by her sisters-in-law Evelyn Birkby and Betty Lou Seeger. She was preceded in death by her husband Bob, brothers Robert and Jack Birkby, son-in-law Duane Mannon, grandson Daniel Reddy, and her parents Lucretia Carter Birkby and Lawrence Virginius “Shorty” Birkby.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, July 15, 2018 at the Sidney United Faith Church immediately following regular Sunday 10:00 AM Worship Services. There will be no viewing or visitation and, in lieu of flowers, memorials will go to a fund established in Ruthella’s name. Ruthella was laid to rest July 14, 2018, in the Sidney Cemetery.
The Crawford-Marshall Funeral Chapel in Sidney, IA is in charge of arrangements.