Jackson resident Ruth Andersen died peacefully at St.
John’s Hospital on March 23. Funeral services were conducted
Saturday, March 30, in Pinedale, with burial alongside
family in the Pinedale Cemetery.
Ruth Olson was born at home on Oct. 9, 1922, in Groveland,
Idaho. She grew up on a sugar beet farm with a brother
and two sisters, in a family that was fully self-sufficient,
raising their own vegetables and fruits, as well as cattle,
sheep, chickens and pigs. Ruth and her sisters helped their
mother make butter and soap for the family, and sold eggs
to buy flour for baking and fabric for their clothing.
Growing up, Ruth liked to play basketball and baseball
in the summers and was even a cheerleader. She didn’t
finish high school. Instead she married John Andersen on
Nov. 26, 1940. Over the next few years, John worked on
farms in the Groveland, Pingree and Blackfoot area and
they had two children, Geraldine and Boyd. John left to serve in World War II as a medical
technician in the Army, assisting in surgeries and spent time on Iwo Jima. He was gone
for 18 months and had to leave Ruth when she was six months pregnant with their third
child, Caroline. Ruth often didn’t know where John was stationed because his letters to
her at that time were censored by the Army.
John returned home in December 1945 and the family moved to Salmon, Idaho. They
lived and worked on various ranches in the Salmon and Leadore areas, before moving to
the Hunter Ranch in Jackson Hole in 1952. Eileen Hunter had lost her husband and needed
a ranch foreman to raise her registered Hereford cattle. The family spent the next 18 years
on the ranch north of Kelly, and the kids attended school and church on Mormon Row.
The fourth addition to the family came when daughter Linda was born. Enduring many
harsh winters of the earlier years on the ranch, their source of travel from their home on
Antelope Flats to the main highway was via snow plane. They spent summers irrigating
the alfalfa fields for hay for the Herefords and gathering firewood for winter, and fishing.
John loved to fish and they spent as much time as possible fishing Slide, Jenny and Jackson
lakes, either from shore or in a boat.
Ruth went to work in the kitchen at St. John’s Hospital, starting out as a tray girl and
worked as head cook when she retired. All the food was prepared from scratch at that time
which was easy for Ruth, but accommodating the different diets was a challenge. One day
a doctor ordered a dry liquid diet for a patient, which was a puzzle on what that actually
was. The doctor told Ruth, “Just make it as dry as you can.”
John drove school bus for many years, picking up kids from Kelly, along Antelope Flats
and Mormon Row and either taking them to Moose to catch the bus that came from Moran,
or in the later years driving them to the schools in Jackson.
John, Ruth and Linda moved from the Hunter Ranch to Jackson in 1970. John and Ruth
moved to Pinedale in 1988, and lived there for more than 30 years. When John passed
away in 1999, Ruth became even more fiercely independent than she already was, insisting
on chopping and packing her own firewood and mowing her lawn. Ruth had many
friends and family in Pinedale, and became active in the LDS church. Her advancing age
and struggle with congestive heart failure precipitated her moving into Pioneer Homestead
in Jackson in 2014.
Ruth loved to read, knit and crochet, and kept friends and family members supplied
with afghans, as well as dishcloths with matching hot pads for many years. She loved
spending time with family, going on picnics and long car rides.
Ruth was preceded in death by her husband John, her brother Darwin Olson and sisters
Lorraine Mecham and Veora Belnap, her daughters Caroline Foster and Gerri Barefield,
her grandsons Kevin Andersen and Kirk Campbell and her granddaughter Julie Boyle.
She is survived by her son Boyd (Judy) Andersen of Pinedale, her daughter Linda
Hazen of Jackson along with grandsons Les (Sheree) of Pinedale, Fred (Mickey) Campbell
of Kemmerer, John (Holly) Foster of Victor, Idaho, Wayne (Melissa) Andersen of
Boise, Idaho, and granddaughter Lisa Hazen of Seattle, Wash. Ruth also has 14 greatgrandchildren,
16 great-great-grandchildren and many nephews and nieces and their extended
Ruth’s children would like to thank the staff at St. John’s Hospital for their compassion
and dedication to their mother’s care, especially Dr. Martha Stearn and Emily Holden.