Ruth Elaine (Waggoner) Lindenstein


August 1, 1923  –  May 13, 2024



image of Ruth Elaine Lindenstein

Ruth Elaine Lindenstein

Ruth passed from earthly life peacefully during the morning of May 13, 2024. Never one for complicated arrangements or needy for attention, she left without fanfare in her room at Wyatt House on Bainbridge Island where she had been living for a decade. She was happy there and engaged in most activities, even while wishing for eternal rest, especially after life changed during the pandemic. She will be remembered for her quick intelligence, gentle personality, generous thoughtfulness, creative talents, and unselfish displays of caring. She will be sorely missed, though wishing for another day would have been heartless of us.

Ruth was born to Loella Grace (Jordan) and Rollie Kenneth Waggoner in Bickleton, Washington on August 1, 1923 on her sister Irma’s second birthday. Ruth joyfully welcomed three younger siblings; Kenneth, Norma, and Helen. Ruth did well in school, attended church with her mother, and spent many summers on her grandparents’ farm. The family moved to Kennewick when Ruth was in fifth grade, then to Oregon in high school, where she earned high honors in Math and was voted Most Likely to Succeed from North Bend High School in 1941. Ruth attended the University of Oregon on scholarship for one year, then moved in with an aunt in Seattle and worked for the Army Corps of Engineers at the Hiram Chittenden Locks. Next, as an Army Nurse Cadet, Ruth entered the Providence School of Nursing through Seattle University, making lifelong friends during those three years and graduated in December of 1946. It was during those years she met Ben Lindenstein and took an eventful road trip with friends to visit him where he was stationed in Montana. Ben and Ruth married in June 1947 in Seattle after he was honorably discharged from the Army.

Ruth was a loving daughter and sister, devoted wife, supportive mom, and incredible grandma to those who connected with her in whatever way they chose. She was admired by coworkers, church friends, and neighbors as capable, unflappable, generous, and soft-spoken. Her first four children were born in Seattle, while Ruth worked at Providence Hospital and Ben attended the University of Washington. They lived for two years in Pt. Townsend, participating fully with award-winning, handmade, costumed entries in the Rhododendron Parade.  Next was the move to Anaheim, California in 1956 where she worked the night shift as a RN in Labor and Delivery at Garden Park Hospital. She slept when the children were at school, waking to be Scout leader, Room Mother for one class or another, alto in the St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church choir, and an ordained Elder and Deacon when asked to serve the church in those capacities. Ruth also enjoyed sewing and other needlework, listening to her five children’s hopes or concerns and encouraging each of them to go after their dreams. Ruth prepared delicious, nutritious, family meals with apparent ease and had a reputation for incredible lasagna and birthday cakes. Living midway between Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm offered Ruth opportunities to enjoy the beach and was a vacation destination for her out-of-state family. This brought treasured reunions when her opportunities to visit Seattle during her California years were few.

Ruth supported Ben’s ambitions and, in her free time, did the bookkeeping for the family mountaineering business, Trail Design, Inc. In 1973, when the time came to relocate, her dream to return to the Seattle area was honored and the current family of four moved to Bainbridge Island, just a ferry ride away from Ruth’s parents. This move also allowed her to reconnect with several nurses from her graduating class when they regularly met for lunch in Seattle.

Ruth always provided generously to potlucks and loved hosting family celebrations. She welcomed convalescing family into their home when having a nurse close by was important and others when it was needed. She enjoyed attending music and dance performances, joining the family’s kids in the neighborhood pool, and watching them play at local parks and beaches or in school performances. She never tired of viewing a beautiful sunset, a starry night or a full moon, the view of snowcapped mountains, ferries and sailboats on the Sound, birds, acres of tulips, or a child’s smile. Ruth enjoyed long car trips, challenging knitting patterns, quilt shop hops and their resulting projects, Big Band music and rousing hymn sings, letters and visits from family and friends, helping others, reading any genre, participating in Bible studies, and conversations on current events. Her unquenchable thirst for knowledge and personal growth ensured a busy social calendar, particularly full of activities connected with Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) on Bainbridge Island. From her arrival in 1973, she served there as an Elder, Deacon, choir member, Stephen’s Minister, Clerk of session, and was active in a variety of women’s groups.

Ruth worked as an RN at the Winslow Convalescent Center until she was seventy years old. While adjusting to retirement, she and Ben celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary!  They sold their house in 1999 to allow them to travel with purpose. They first served as Volunteers In Mission at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, Alaska, where Ruth worked in the school’s library, made dear friends of the other VIMs, and with Ben, hiked the trails of Baranof Island. There she filled her crafting hours with petit point needlework, concentrating especially on Tlingit and Coast Salish Native designs. They then spent several years in Oak Harbor, WA, deeply involved with Whidbey Presbyterian Church where she volunteered in various capacities, served as treasurer for their Women’s Association, and was an active member of Quilters on the Rock.

Ruth suffered the incredible loss of her loving husband, best friend, and travel partner of nearly 64 years in March of 2011. Long road trips like the Alaska Highway, weeks-long circuits through the southwest, cross-country trips to visit grandchildren at universities, cruises including one through the Panama Canal, and their trip to Italy in 2003 became treasured memories. Following Ben’s death, Ruth moved back to Bainbridge Island, making family visits easier. While much of her spark was gone, she rallied to a purposeful life for many years, caring about family and friends, participating in Bible studies, connecting with the staff, volunteers, and residents at Wyatt House, and had concern for the wider world. It brought her joy to see her children and grandchildren spread their wings for learning opportunities or career challenges and she celebrated each marriage, birth, and reunion as the family grew.

There are no plans for a memorial service; the celebration of her 100th birthday last August at Fay Bainbridge Park was a perfect opportunity for family and friends from throughout the West to wish Ruth well, thank her for her part in their lives, and share their current news. She was honored then and is survived by all five of her children: Brad (Jen), Gary (Sharol), Dianne (Jeff Thompson), Sue, and Doug (Sherry); her grandchildren: Ken (Sonja), Nicole (Sean Nearhoff), Silas (Gretchen), Eddy (Jenny), Jimmy, Brian (Tracy), Angela (Alex Cory), Keriann Dilisi (Megan), Jacob (Adrian), and Melissa; and great-grandchildren: Benjamin, Liam, Kerry, Sierra, Willow, Finn, Zoey, Audrey, Sylvia, Sydney, Sybrina, Soren, Ruth, Faith, Devon, Keith, Ryder, Pilot, Zane, Kaylee, and John. She is also survived by her sisters Norma Bryan and Helen Colombi and their families, and Ben’s sisters, Mary Walshok and Margaret Lindenstein (Jim Allison) and their families.

According to Ruth’s wishes, her ashes will be scattered in the not-too-distant-future at one of her favorite places, the Dungeness Spit; a place of honor because it was often visited for its incredible natural beauty and carried the unforgettable memory of being locked in the lighthouse during a day hike with Ben. (They were rescued after the emergency phone alerted the U.S. Coast Guard and were given a ride the five miles back to the trailhead by the very apologetic caretaker!) She visualized her ashes traveling by tide and currents from there to the states she had lived: Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska.

In lieu of donations, you are encouraged to provide an act of kindness, call a loved one, or go on an adventure. Ruth loved life and would be honored that her story inspired someone to improve the life of another (and quite possibly, their own)!

2 Responses to “Ruth Elaine (Waggoner) Lindenstein”

  • Connie Calhoon Beach says:

    What a wonderful obituary. Such a full life, it sounds like she gave so much and received so much.
    Although she will be missed by you all, it’s clear many memories will carry on.
    How lovely that you were able to have a 100th birthday party for her and with her.
    Love, Connie

  • Kathy Kraft says:

    What a beautiful life! Your mom was truly a star! Just like you a d Jeff! A wonderful story . And she was a Waggoner–a possible family connection to Tedd’s favorite grandmother, Jenny Waggoner–like your Mom, a star!

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