Ruthe Elaine Montgomery Halbritter, of Niles

Published 2:26 pm Friday, May 20, 2016

May 12, 1921 — May 18, 2016

Ruthe Elaine Montgomery Halbritter, 95, of Niles, Michigan died at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, at Lakeland Hospital — Niles following an extended illness.

Ruthe Elaine Montgomery Halbritter

Ruthe Elaine Montgomery Halbritter

She was born on May 12, 1921, in Buchanan, Michigan to John Myron and Teddy May (Rowley) Montgomery. She was graduated from Buchanan High School, and attended Hunter College of the City University of New York, New York. She enlisted in the United States Navy in 1943 and served as a laboratory technician in several Naval Hospitals including the U.S. Navy Air Station in Clinton, Oklahoma where she met her husband, Ted who was a Chief Pharmacist Mate. She was discharged as a Pharmacist Mate and a Veteran of World War II.

Ruthe returned to Buchanan, and Ted joined the Price and Kiger Funeral Home in Niles. She actively assisted Ted — and later their son, Ted III – at the funeral home, especially after their family moved into the residence above the funeral home. Many families will remember her acts of kindness, inviting them to her home for something to eat, and entertaining the children. She always had a crystal dish of fresh brownies ready to be delivered wherever it was needed the most.

She was a long-time member of the Wesley United Methodist Church in Niles where she taught Sunday School, served on many of the boards and committees, and participated in the United Methodist Women circles. As her mobility declined, many dear friends provided transportation to special activities of their congregations, and Carol and Fred Laesch made her feel most at home at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Niles.

She was a Life Member, and former board member of the Pawating Auxiliary at what is now Lakeland Hospital – Niles, volunteering a remarkable 10,772 hours – many at the former coffee bar just off the lobby. She was honored with the Continuous Unselfish Performance Award, and was named to light the Tree of Love at the annual Christmas celebration. A 2001 South Bend Tribune article quoted Ruthe: “I do this because I like to help people. When I volunteer, I do something for the entire community.”

For almost 50 years, she gave book reviews, encouraging reading of a book by revealing the outline of the story ­— but never the ending — to many organizations, usually on an annual basis. Another South Bend Tribune article, in 1977, featured her reviews of books by the late humorists Jean Kerr and Erma Bombeck, and spoke of her library “full of books with little paper bookmarks marking the passages she felt important.”

Ruthe was also a member of the Ladies’ Historical Society, a sustaining member of the Niles Service League, and a supporter and member of the Fernwood Botanical Gardens Nature Preserve.

On Nov. 11, 1944, in Clinton, Oklahoma she married Ted L. Halbritter with whom she celebrated the forty-ninth anniversary of their wedding prior to his death on August 13, 1994. They were sadly preceded in death by a 1-year-old daughter, Sue Ann Halbritter on March 2, 1947; and by Ruthe’s brothers, William B. Montgomery, John J. Montgomery, and Paul C. Montgomery.

Surviving family includes her children, Sandra (Anthony) Bruno of Grafton, Ohio and Ted (Mary Jo) Halbritter III of Niles; grandchildren Katie Bartley, Kevin (Kelly) Bartley, Claire (Jason) Ziesmer, and Carrie (Matt) Sponsky; great-grandchildren, Caitlin, Avery, Chelsea, Arden, and Morgan; and Ruthe’s sister, Marie Kangas of Buchanan, Michigan and many nieces and nephews; and an amazing circle of wonderful friends who have continued to visit and care for her through her final illness.

The funeral service for Ruthe Halbritter will be – fittingly at her home, the Halbritter Funeral Home on Monday, May 23, 2016, at 11 a.m. with the retired Rev. Carl W. Bassett of Niles officiating. Committal services will follow at the Silverbrook Cemetery in Niles and will conclude with the Veterans Flag Presentation and “Taps” by the United States Navy Honor Guard.

The family will receive relatives and friends on Sunday at the funeral home from 2 until 5 p.m. Contributions in memory of Ruthe may be made to the Foundation of the Lakeland Hospital – Niles; or to the Niles District Library.