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,
however, and instead 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 great-grandchildren, 16
great-great-grandchildren and many nephews and nieces and their extended families.
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.