Ruth Lorene (Ehlers) Neal passed peacefully away at her residence at The Springs at Mill Creek, The Dalles, Ore., on Aug. 2, 2018.
Born on April 9, 1922, Ruth always said she wanted to live until she was 96, the oldest age of any family members, and she achieved that goal, having turned 96 on April 9, of this year.
Ruth was born in Yakima, Wash., and spent her childhood on an apple ranch on Naches Heights, the daughter of Amos and Margaret (May) Ehlers. She graduated from Yakima High School and Yakima Valley Community College in 1942, and later took classes at Washington State University.
During various employment years, she worked at a Yakima bank, and was a staff person in the resource department of the Yakima Valley Regional Library.
During her time at Yakima Valley Community College, Ruth met the love of her life, Robert (Bob) E. Neal Jr. They became engaged in Aug. of 1943. In June of 1944, she boarded a flight, all alone, to Plattsburg, N.Y., where she and Bob, then Navy Ensign Neal, were married on June 28, a marriage that would endure nearly 65 years.
World War II had broken out and Ensign Neal had received his commission from the Naval Officers Training School. The couple honeymooned in Lake Placid, N.Y., New York City and Washington, D.C. From there they spent time in Portland, Ore., and San Diego, Calif., awaiting Naval orders.
While her husband served aboard a Navy ship in the Pacific, Ruth returned home to Yakima.
World War II eventually ended and the Neals established a home, again on Naches Heights outside of Yakima. During their time there, two children were born, Linda Ann and Robert (Bob) E. Neal III. Ruth, a hard working wife. While pregnant with her third child, Tom Steven Neal, Ruth worked side by side with Bob to construct their new home in Terrace Heights, where she would reside until 2008, when Bob’s health concerns led them to move to The Dalles, Ore., to be close to son Tom.
It was perhaps her status as a “depression child” and her experience working in a bank that honed her skills in expertly managing the family budget. Her books were meticulously kept, always with various funds allocated for potential upcoming expenses. She was knowledgable about the family investments and tracked them faithfully until nearly the end of her life.
As a mom, Ruth was loving, principled and not afraid to “lay down the law” when circumstances required it. She firmly believed that whatever one did, it should be done with one’s best effort. But she was exceptionally giving as well, enduring endless horse shows with daughter Linda, for whom she expertly sewed horse show outfits.
The number of hours spent on bleachers while both husband and sons played basketball are uncountable.
The variety of family pets that she lovingly tolerated and helped care for is too great to count. And she was an expert cook and baker, gifting her many friends with her famous “butterhorns,” a light, delicious Danish pastry, every Christmas until she was in her seventies. She loved flowers and spent many hours working to beautify the flower beds surrounding the house.
And once grandchildren arrived, they lighted up Ruth’s world. She made every effort to maintain a close relationship with them, traveling time after time to wherever they live, when they were unable to come to her.
Late in her life, her great-grandchildren gave her joy and always brought a smile to her face.
She loved the outdoors, especially the Cascade mountains and the beaches of the Olympic Peninsula. She and Bob were fortunate to travel to Europe, Scandinavia, Greece, Australia and New Zealand, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and the East Coast during their retirement.
Ruth was a loyal friend and possessed the ability to see the best in those around her. She was always the one to make the newcomer in the room feel valued and welcome. She and a group of life-long girlfriends were once honored by the Yakima Herald newspaper in an article commemorating the fact that they had met once a month to enjoy lunch and to catch up, for over 50 years!
She was also a reliable giver to all in need. Friends, family, organizations. A nearly lifelong member the The First Presbyterian Church in Yakima, Wash., she was an ordained deacon and served on, among others, the funeral committee for many years.
Light-as-a-feather homemade crescent dinner rolls, which she continued to provide well into her seventies. She faithfully supported The Union Gospel Mission, The Salvation Army, her church, her children’s schools, her daughter’s 4-H club, and many other worthwhile organizations. She was a P.E.O. member in Yakima.
But perhaps the quality that best describes Ruth Lorene Neal is her ability to see the best and to make the best of any situation. As she aged, that became increasingly difficult, but she maintained her generous spirit and her willingness to try. She was a kind, gracious and principled Christian woman and her family will miss her greatly.
Ruth is survived by three children; daughter, Linda A. Saloum and her husband Herb of Sioux Falls, S.D.; sons, Robert (Bob) E. Neal, III and his wife Joan of Otis Orchards, Wash., and Tom S. Neal and his wife Rhonda of The Dalles, Ore.; grandchildren, James N. Saloum and his wife Amber and great-grandchildren, Elena and Calvin Saloum, Tyler Neal and his wife Jessica and great-grandchildren Amelia and Esther, Mitch Neal and his wife Lauren, Conner Neal and his wife Faith, Diamond McDowell, Brandi Neal and great-grandchildren David, Danessa and Madison.
Ruth is preceded in death by her parents; half-brother, James Poe, and her husband, Robert (Bob) E. Neal, Jr.
The family will gather at a later date to reminisce and honor her life.
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