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Ruth Willke Folz
April 18, 1927 ~ November 11, 2023 (age 96) 96 Years Old
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Ruth Willke Folz passed away on November 11, 2023 in Springfield, Ohio. She was 96. Ruth was born in Maria Stein, OH, in her parents’ home. After her father moved his medical practice to Cincinnati, she grew up down the street from her future husband, Dave. They were married for 73 years. Ruth graduated from Our Lady of Angels High School as its valedictorian. She went on to Our Lady of Cincinnati College, now part of the University of Cincinnati, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in nursing. While she began her career as an RN at Good Samaritan Hospital, children quickly followed, 10 in 18 years. Her most important career was raising her kids and helping with the grandkids and great grandkids, visiting them frequently or hosting them in the large family gatherings in Springfield.
Ruth and Dave were active parents involved in all phases of their children’s development. They emphasized the importance of a good education, and, despite modest economic circumstances, all their children graduated from college, several with advanced degrees. Ruth encouraged them to be the best they could be and always to do the right thing. As their children married, she welcomed their spouses as important members of the family, always asking about them on her family calls. As the grandchildren and great grandchildren came along, she made a point of staying connected with them, no matter how far away.
Shortly after moving to Springfield, Ruth joined in establishing a volunteer program to support young, disadvantaged mothers and their infants in the community. She understood that a child’s early years, 0-3, were critically important for their lifelong development, and that by supporting the mothers, the children were more likely to thrive. Ruth founded an organization, later to become known as the Parent Infant Center, to provide families with material items, home visits, emotional support, and educational classes to help mothers become loving and compassionate caregivers.
In her fifties, to stay on top of the counseling needs at the Parent Infant Center, she completed a Master of Education Program at the University of Dayton, finishing with a 4.0. Even in her 90s, when she could not actively be involved with the Parent Infant Center, she continued to support their efforts by making blankets for many of the babies in the program.
Among her many community awards, she was most proud of being honored by the Springfield Federation of Women’s Clubs in 2022 with its Empowering Women One by One Award for her work. The Mercy Medical Center honored her in 1999 for Outstanding Volunteer Service. She was also active for many years in the Springfield Kiwanis Club and received their Distinguished Service Award in 1996. One of her important legacies was inspiring her children to follow her path of service by being active in their communities and giving back.
She is survived by her husband of 73 years, David L. Folz, and her children Dave (Lori Ann) of Dallas, TX, Jeanne (David) Dearth of Denver, CO; Jerry (Stacie Boney) of Evanston, IL, Mary (Tim) Callahan of Reading, MI, Nancy (Scott) Murphy of Somers, MT, Peggy (Tad Bristow) of Indianapolis, IN, Andy (Lisa) of El Cajon, CA, Susan (Phil) West of Westerville, OH, and Sally (Jeff) Predmore of Carlisle, PA, with 26 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her son, Joseph, in 2017; her parents, Dr. Gerard and Marie Willke; and her siblings, Mary (Gus) Robisch (Dick) Hammerman and Dr. John (Barb) Willke, and Jean Willke. She is survived by her brother, Tom, his wife, Gerry, her sister, Bonnie, and her husband, Mike.
Visitation will be held at Jones-Kenney-Zechman Funeral Home on Friday, November 17th from 4-7 pm. Funeral services will be held at St. Teresa Catholic Church on Saturday, November 18th at 11:00 AM.
Ruth will be interred at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Cincinnati, OH, at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Parent Infant Center c/o Rocking Horse Community Health Center 651 S. Limestone St, Springfield, OH 45505.
Condolences may be expressed to the family by visiting jkzfh.com.