Cover photo for Ruth Elizabeth Williams's Obituary
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Ruth Elizabeth Williams

February 28, 1924 — July 6, 2023

Ruth Elizabeth Williams

Ruth Elizabeth Williams departed this life on July 6, 2023, at the age of 99. Also known by her family and friends as "Rum," "Mama Ruth," and "GiGi," she will be remembered as a most loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, as well as a marvelous pianist and inspiring storyteller and poet.Born in Chicago, Illinois, to Lillie Belle Reed Fetscher and Charles Osmond Fetscher, Ruth remembered a childhood filled with sleigh ride parties, ice skating, and summers at Lake Geneva, where she paddled with friends in her "unsinkable canoe." After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, she recalled her mother, Lillie Belle, handing out hot meals from their back door, never turning anyone away who wanted food. Later as a teenager during the Big Band era, Ruth loved ballroom dancing in downtown Chicago and her love of big band music lasted a lifetime. After World War II broke out, Ruth joined the Red Cross as a Nurse's Aide, volunteering in hospitals in Chicago and Evanston.In 1942, she graduated from high school and began attending Stephens College in the fall of that year. Her roommate was Jane Williams and they became best friends. Jane affectionately called Ruth "Rum," short for roommate, and the name stuck. Jane invited Ruth home to spend a weekend with her in Indianapolis, and that weekend, Ruth met Jane's brother, Gene, who was home on leave from the Army Air Corps. In her words, "I met the love of my life." Gene, upon returning to duty as a pilot in Europe, proudly named his P-51 Mustang "RUM." After completing her studies at Stephens, Ruth attended Northwestern University, graduating with a degree in Speech from the School of Communication. The year prior, the war had ended, and Gene returned home to finish his last year of college. They were married in Chicago on June 21, 1946, three days after Ruth's graduation. They moved to Indianapolis to begin their new life, and there, had two children, David and Pamela. Later Gene's career took them to Greenwich, Connecticut, before they eventually settled in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1960, where they lived happily for many years until Gene's passing from heart problems in 1982. In 1984, Ruth married Tom Riddick and moved to California. She came back to Arizona after Tom's untimely death from cancer in 1989. In 2014, Ruth moved to Oklahoma City to be near her daughter, Pamela, and her family. While in Oklahoma, she enjoyed her weekly bridge club, church, and time with family. She continued playing bridge every week until a short time before her passing.Ruth was abundantly kind, gracious, good-humored, and just plain fun. A talented pianist, she loved playing Gershwin, Mozart, and Beethoven. She often played by ear, and her improvisations in big band style will be sorely missed. She encouraged a love of music in her grandchildren and often sat down to play "Chopsticks" and Christmas songs with them. She loved writing poems for her family members on special occasions and her moving poems will be treasured for many years to come. A compassionate and generous spirit, she gave the travel bug to her granddaughters when she took them on adventures to far-off places. She was 97 when she took her last trip in the family motorhome to Arizona to visit family members and her best friend, Martha. She is joined in Heaven by her brother Harold, who passed away from the Spanish Flu before she was born; her parents, Lille Belle and Charles Fetscher; first husband, Gene Williams; and second husband, Tom Riddick. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Marianne Tobias; children, David (Mary) Williams, Pamela (Michael) Emmons, Tom (Evelyn) Riddick, Jr., and Marilyn Riddick; six grandchildren, David (Sarita) Williams, Jr., Randall (Kaliope) Williams, Nicole Emmons, Emily (Jon Almera) Emmons, Natalie McDaniel, and Michelle Emmons; six great-grandchildren, Matthew Williams, Anthony Williams, Marie Williams, Nicholas Williams, Arabella McDaniel, and Ezra McDaniel. Following her death, a handwritten note was found in her final wishes folder. It reads, "And remember, life does go on—Out of fresh tears—we water new dreams, because that is the way we are."There will be a memorial service in the fall of 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona, for family and friends.
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