RED LODGE — The morning of Jan. 30, our mother and grandmother slipped peacefully away at her home. On April 19, 1925, in Howard, Colorado, Ruth Walker Wendt, the youngest of 13 children to Joseph and Phylla Walker, was born in the mountains and grew to love snow and traveling. Raised in multiple parts of the west, she graduated from Ashland (Oregon) high school and entered Southern Oregon University. There she met and then married Robert C. Wendt, one of only three male students enrolled at the time during the WWII. From there they taught, traveled and baked their way to almost 70 years of married life. (Bob died in October of 2017.) From Grants Pass and Eugene Oregon, to Caldwell , Idaho, they established their final home in Red Lodge.
Ruth was a "homemaker" who was a constant volunteer across the decades. Her life was one of service to her family and community.
Abandoning the academic life, Ruth and Bob first came to Red Lodge in 1982 when they bought and operated the Valli-Hi Motor Lodge. After moving to Moses Lake, Washington, to own and run the Travelodge until 1994, they returned to Red Lodge for twenty something years.
They were always "Ruth n’ Bob" or "Bob n’ Ruth." Not that they didn’t have separate and unique personalities, and they definitely did, but they were in the best sense of the word a couple that each brought something special to their relationship.
Whether working as bookkeeper in Stockton California during WWII, serving as treasurer of Boone Memorial Presbyterian Church or working at the Caldwell Migrant Labor Camp, Ruth kept tabs on friends and family and had no qualms of expressing her opinion. In the 1970s, fellow church members elected her to the national assembly. Returning to Red Lodge, Ruth became quite involved in the United Church of Christ, the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity and the hospital. Ruth proudly helped sheet rock at the shared cabin, shoveled snow literally to her last day and tenaciously drove through life with lessons learned from the Depression.
Ruth Wendt was a grandmother extraordinaire. Whether she and Bob were taking one or more of the four grandchildren on road trips, playing Barbies with granddaughters, sewing, knitting or helping make quilts for grandchildren, Ruth was a center-point of her children and grandchildren’s lives.
She is survived by daughter, Rebecca (Ibe) Cole of Moscow, Idaho, and Bruce (Claire Oakley) of Billings. Her four grandchildren miss her terribly: Sarah Wendt in Greeley, Colorado, Eric Wendt in Billings, Katherine (Jesse) Cole in St. Croix and Stephen Cole in Moscow.
A memorial service, for a life well lived, is planned for March.