At age 19, in 1944, Ruth began teaching English at Colstrip High School. Some 50 years later she retired as assistant professor of English at Montana State University Billings. She had served two terms as Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Peredeniya in Sri Lanka and had also taught at Carroll College in Helena, Miles Community College and at Hysham High School, her home town. In 1954 she married Clyde Carrington, and for seven years they taught in Navy Dependent Schools in Taiwan, the Philippine Islands and Morocco. From 1975 to 1984 she worked as a resource specialist in AARP Library in Washington, D.C.
In September 2002, Ruth married Alton O. Birch of Addy, Wash. They spent five and a half happy retirement years together until his death in March 2008. Ruth returned to live at the family farm out of Hysham with her brother Donald Gibson. They enjoyed participating in Treasure County senior citizen activities, Eastern Montana Fiddler Jamborees and dances were among their other activities. Ruth Birch passed away in the afternoon of April 22, 2014, after playing cards with her friends.
Ruth was born in Burr Oak, Kan., on Dec. 6, 1924, the daughter of L.D. and Mina (Oglevie) Gibson of Hysham. She attended and graduated from Hysham High School, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Montana and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Maryland.
In 1968 Ruth became active in politics, serving on national committees, as vice chair of the Montana Democratic Central Committee and as chair of the Treasure County Democrats.
As chair of the county Bicentennial Commission, she edited and supervised publication of two histories of Treasure County in 1975 and 1976, and later she served on the board of the 89’ers Museum in Hysham. She also served as co-president of the Writers Group of the Billings Arts Association.
Ruth is survived by her brother Don Gibson of Hysham; a sister, Edith (Joseph) Malia, of Billings; three stepdaughters, Kristin (Michael) Watson, of Spokane, Sonja (Walter) Lebuis, of Port Angeles, Wash., and Dana (Richard) Cunningham, of Hysham; niece Cheryl Malia McCall; nephews Rich and Don Malia, of Billings, and eight grand-nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in Ruth’s name can be made to Treasure County Senior Citizens, PO Box 363, Hysham, MT 59038 or Treasure County 89’ers Museum, PO Box 489, Hysham, MT 59038.
A Celebration of Life will be held on May 2 at 11 a.m. in the Hysham Community Presbyterian. A luncheon will follow the services at the Community Center in Hysham, and burial will take place following the luncheon in the Forsyth Cemetery. Stevenson and Sons Funeral Home of Forsyth is assisting the family with these arrangements, and condolences may be sent by visiting www.stevensonandsons.com.