Life Tribute — Ruth Lorene Emrich Hardaway Schlotterbeck

Ruth Lorene Emrich Hardaway Schlotterbeck

On Thursday, April 9, Ruth Lorene Emrich Hardaway Schlotterbeck died in her own bed in her own house. She was 92, a beautiful, spiritual and curious adventurer who toughed it out most of her long life.

Born in Kansas, she was the oldest of three. Ruth worked most of her life, even before it was the norm to be a working mother. She was a nurse although she had wanted to be a teacher. She also wanted to join the Navy and go to Alaska before touring the world but instead moved to the Texas Panhandle as a favor to a classmate already there.

And she fell under the spell of Herman Hardaway, a clerk at a lumberyard, who pursued her fiercely because she would not give him the time of day. They dated six weeks and married. I (Jane Selkye) was born 11 months later. Four years after that, my brother was born. Six years on, my sister was born. Whenever something went haywire, we moved. We moved a lot from 1950 to 1965, packing and unpacking across a dozen towns from Texas to Oklahoma to Southern California.

Mom was always game to try a new church, a new hairstyle, a new furniture arrangement, a new cuisine or a new radio station. She worked, kept house, cooked, baked, sewed, read, gardened and fed the dog. She was the mainstay of the household, always. She didn’t have many confidants but plenty of friends. She took in the sick, the puny and the suffering.

After she divorced Herman in 1969 or 1970, she worked two jobs, seven days a week, because she refused to ask for any money from her former spouse. When she had extra money, she gave it to us kids. She remarried Paul Schlotterbeck, and they traveled the world, drank and danced, played bridge, went to football games, baseball games, the county fair and retired to Susanville to be near my brother and his family. She adored her grandsons and great-grandchildren.

She followed her own light. She was funny and smart but thought she was neither. She played the hand she was dealt with verve, style and relish.