Ruth Eleanor Mendenhall Hurtt

Ruth Hurtt september 2017

Today, after over 95 years of life, Ruth Hurtt is dancing in heaven. She died peacefully, surrounded by her children and anticipating reunion with those loved ones who had preceded her in death.

Celebration of her life service: 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at Cogdell Memorial United Methodist Church, 1201 Hwy 6, Waco 76710, followed by a reception in the church fellowship hall featuring deserts and chocolate, which she always adored! She will be laid to rest next to her husband, Ernie, at Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier, California, at a later date.

A lover of family, adventure and travel, she was ready to embrace this next step in her journey. Nothing was more important to Ruth than family. To cherish her memories, she leaves behind her daughter and son-in-law, Tracy Allyn and the Rev. Robert J. Gaestel of Pasadena California; daughter Dr. Retha Kathleen (Kathy) Hurtt of Waco, Texas; and son and daughter-in-law Dr. David Neal and DeeAnn McWilliams Hurtt of Hewitt, Texas; as well as her beloved grandchildren Robin Gaestel (San Francisco, California), Holly Allyn Gaestel (Lagos, Nigeria), Lindsey Kay Hurtt (Santa Rosa, California), and Thomas Neal Hurtt (Waco, Texas) and his son Kaden Skylar Hurtt. Ruth is survived by her younger brother, Robert William Mendenhall, his wife, Jenne Anne, and younger sister, Mary Carol Garske. She loved to visit family all over the world, and will be missed by her many nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews.

Ruth, affectionately called “RuthE,” was born November 28, 1921, amidst much excitement. For her birth, her mother, Retha May Newlin Mendenhall, had to leave the family on Palomar Mountain and travel down to the town of Escondido, San Diego County, California. Winter storms then prevented mother and daughter from returning to the family on the mountain until after Christmas, over a month later. Ruth met her father, Lucius Carlisle Mendenhall, after the spring thaw made travel back up the mountain possible. The sixth of nine children, Ruth grew up in California — living on Palomar Mountain, the Mendenhall Dairy in La Mesa, and later, in Escondido.

Ruth graduated from Grossmont Union High School (San Diego) in 1939, and met Ernest (Ernie) Charles Hurtt (originally of Portsmouth Virginia) in church youth group when she was sixteen. She always said that he “had a twinkle in his eyes” and “was such a gentleman.” They married on July 25, 1941. In their early married life, Ernie’s work as a journeyman electrician caused them to travel the United States with stays in Flagstaff, Arizona, Galveston, Texas, and San Francisco, California, before returning to San Diego where Ernie worked as a contractor electrician. In 1953 they settled in Pico Rivera, California after Ernie accepted employment with Los Angeles County, where he worked until his retirement in 1978. Before having children, Ruth served as a title agent and was proud of helping people get into homes. After thirteen years of marriage, Ruth and Ernie were surprised and blessed with three children: Tracy Allyn arrived in 1954, Retha Kathleen in 1956 and David Neal in 1958.In 1972 the Hurtt Family moved to Belmont Heights in Long Beach, California, where Ruth lived for the next 38 years.
Ruth was a caring, vibrant woman who lived life to the fullest. Together, Ruth and Ernie loved dancing, and took up square dancing after Tracy was born. They were members of the Fairs and Squares square dance club, and enjoyed challenge dancing with various clubs all over southern California. Ruth was a life member of the Girl Scouts of America and served as a Brownie, Junior and Cadet troop leader, cookie chairman, and camp leader (with the camp nickname “Jellybean”).

One of Ruth’s passions was bowling and she was proud of her many team bowling trophies. Following her mother’s footsteps, she was active in the P.T.A. at her children’s schools and held many officer positions including serving as the P.T.A. president of South Ranchito Elementary school. As a host parent, she was active in the Woodrow Wilson chapter of the American Field Service. She volunteered at the Los Angeles County Museum of Science and Industry’s Docent program and loved giving tours to schoolchildren. She was an energetic member at Belmont Heights United Methodist church, serving as the long-time treasurer of the UMW, and participated in Lamplighters, Sunday School and the quilting group as well as being a “friendly greeter” with Meals on Wheels . She loved her Senior Exercise class that met twice weekly in the basement of the church. A breast cancer survivor, Ruth was particularly proud of her many participations in the “Race for a Cure,” and joined the Belmont Heights team for the last time at the age of 90. She was honored to be a member of the PEO philanthropic organization and treasured her sisters from Chapter QC. Though it was exhausting, she was proud of her service as a poll worker in Long Beach. Ruth played recreational Bridge for many years, enjoying several bridge groups and informal games with the Bob Mendenhall clan. Anyone who was in her home knew that Ruth loved to hum or sing hymns, choruses, Girl Scout camp songs or popular tunes from the 1940s and 1950s while she worked. An enduring love was cooking with her family, especially making “Newlin tamales” with her sister Leona Snow and anyone else willing to join them. Ruth loved having visitors and readily welcomed people to her home in Pico Rivera and later, Long Beach.

Ruth loved to explore through roaming and always held a childlike delight of seeing new things. A great family memory is her first whale-watching experience when, upon seeing whales swimming free in the ocean, she squealed with delight and excitement! While her children were growing, the family spent every summer camping and visited most of the national parks and monuments in the western U.S (most often stopping at her brother Dick’s home for his and Elsie’s hospitality and to get delicious California peaches, followed by a visit to her sister Mary Carol and Carl Garske for great family time). Every spring they spent visiting the southwest Indian reservations and desert sites that contained interesting geological specimens for Ernie to collect. She loved traveling! Her first international trip was a Wally Byam Caravan through Central America to the Panama Canal, which she undertook with Ernie and her sister Leona. That experience led to other Airstream trips through northeastern US and through Louisiana with her sister Helen Johnson. After Ernie’s death in September 1986, Ruth was thrilled to visit her sister Anne Elizabeth Roca in Columbia and together they traveled to visit Machu Picchu,Peru. Other memorable trips were to the Holy Land, Great Britain, Europe, the Arctic to “visit the polar bears,” and trips to Hawaii with nieces and nephews from her brother Dick’s family. After becoming a grandmother, she traveled wherever her children and grandchildren were, including Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Salt Lake City, Wisconsin, Michigan and Texas. In Ruth’s later years, when her memory was failing, she loved being able to say, “I’ve been there!” when viewing pictures of scenic sites.In the last two years, Ruth was only able to take local trips, but she continued dreaming about where she wanted to go. We are thrilled that in her journey to heaven she has taken the trip of her lifetime.
Ruth was overjoyed when she became a grandmother. She would often say that she had no idea she could feel love the way she did when her grandchildren were born. She loved spending time with them, and was so proud of each of them. When she became a great-grandmother, her joy knew no bounds.

Ruth moved to Waco Texas in 2010 where she initially lived with her daughter, Kathy. In Waco, she loved Cogdell Memorial United Methodist Church and especially the Senior Lunch group where her son David made sure she was able to attend each Wednesday. For the last two years, Ruth was a resident at Living Springs Village. This assisted living village became like family to her and each member of the staff is a kind and caring individual who loved mom and made her feel special and safe. Mom loved to greet all visitors there with a smile and a wave. We were fortunate that as she lost her short-term memory, she retained her sweetness and joy although she would often comment, “This getting old is not for sissies!” We would like to thank the staff and families of Living Springs Village who, as mom would say, “are really nice people”. Mom would light up in a smile as the staff members and family visitors would hug or tease her.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Cogdell UMC memorial fund or Belmont Heights United Methodist Church memorial fund, 317 Termino Ave., Long Beach California 90814. Most, we ask that you hug a family member and love, and serve God and others in her memory.

Lake Shore Funeral Home & Cremation Services

5201 Steinbeck Bend Dr
Waco, TX 76708
United States (US)
Phone: (254) 752-5900
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Condolence Messages

  1. Debbie Drumheller

    Kathy, Tracy, David and their families,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. I loved your mom. She impacted my life in such a loving way through high school. I’ve thought about her through the years and always with a grateful heart. She was truly a loving caring beautiful lady. Thank you for sharing her with me during those high school years. I miss all of you!

    Love Debbie (Milne) Drumheller ????????????

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