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Virginia Ruark
January 20, 1926 - June 17, 2016

The heavenly choir gained a director on June 17, 2016 when Virginia Erickson Ruark went home to the Lord.  She was 90.  Visitation will be from 4-7 PM on Monday June 20 at the Geilenfeld Funeral Home in Oelwein.  Funeral services will begin at 11 AM on Tuesday June 21 at the Geilenfeld Funeral Home with visitation from 10-11 AM.

Virginia was born on January 20, 1926 to Walter Erickson and Lydia Dohl Erickson. Born and raised in Chicago, Virginia was a south sider whose childhood experiences included sitting on Al Capone's lap as a little girl. The oldest of three girls, she had plenty of opportunities to practice being in charge by bossing around her sisters, Jean and Barb. A child of the depression era, Virginia sold cleaning supplies door-to-door to supplement the family's income.

Virginia's love of music began at a young age.  As a girl, she studied piano with Bissel Padgett, a concert pianist, and had the opportunity to perform with him on occasion. She studied organ with Paul F. Braun at the American Conservatory of Music and studied voice with William A. Phillips, Chicago Opera Co. tenor.  She was singing live on the radio in Chicago when she was interrupted to announce the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Virginia spent many years as a church soloist and organist.  She also spent many years giving free piano and voice lessons to many.  Virginia had a particular musical passion for directing church choirs, an activity that combined her love of music and her love of God.

Virginia loved to study and graduated from Englewood High School at the age of 16.  She went on to attend Chicago Teacher's College, San Diego State Teacher's College, and the University of Chicago. During World War II, Virginia taught high school math and preschool.  Virginia was working as a personnel director at Link-Belt Co. in Chicago when the company hired a young engineer named Robert Ruark. They married on October 4, 1957 and had two daughters.  Bob and Virginia lived in Illinois, North Carolina, and Wisconsin prior to settling in Oelwein in 1967 to start ABCO Engineering.

Virginia was an active volunteer, particularly when it came to politics.  She held offices at the county, state, and national level for the General Federation of Republican Women.  Virginia also served on the Iowa and National Board of Engineering Examiners, and was on a governor-appointed committee to recommend judges for the Iowa Supreme Court and Appellate Court.  She also enjoyed participating in organizations such as the American Guild of Organists, The MacDowell Club, and the Tuesday Tourist Club.

Virginia was preceded in death by her parents, sister Jean Erickson, son John Alan Dutko and daughter-in-law Rose Marie Dutko.  She is survived by her husband Bob; sister Barbara Anderson of East Longmeadow, MA; daughter Trish (Bill) King of Houston, TX; daughter Ginny (John) Wessels of Lawrence, KS; eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 


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Dave & Cheryl Hanson - Fayette, IA on July 13, 2016 at 7:15 PM said:

Bob and family
We are so sorry to hear of Virginia's passing. I fondly remember working for her with the Iowa Republican Women. She was always a plethora of knowledge and wisdom. Also have fond memories of son Mark playing her piano and organ. We will be praying for your family in this time of loss. Son James remembers when Bob would called him Jiminy cricket :) It was so good to see you at Country Cottage last month. Heaven truly gained a blessed saint with an incredible musical talent. Our hearts go out to you and you are in our prayers-
Chris & Paul Patridge on June 24, 2016 at 5:30 PM said:

We are very sorry to lose such a wonderful person as your mother and wife. In school, Ginny, I did not know your parents; but in my 24 years at Fareway, your Mom encouraged me to accomplish whatever was and is important to me and my family. She spread God's love for people, as well as her own, through everyday conversation with me, but (now) obviously in many ways throughout her life. My husband, Paul delivered mail to your parents home for those same 24 years. He spent time visiting with them and enjoyed doing so. We exchanged Christmas cards and letters, as well, so I wanted to hear about your family lives. Pride can be and was a beautiful expression coming from your mom. Paul and I have been retired for 2 1/2 years. We miss visiting with our friends and acquaintances that have been made along the way. I believe that the best is yet to come for many people at the time of death; as it is for your mother. We wish you peace to support you in this time of grief.
Bruce Anderson on June 23, 2016 at 4:08 PM said:

I am so sorry for your loss. I only knew her as Mrs. Ruark from my early church days at Zion. She was so passionate about teaching and make sure we sang in church. Her happiness was contagious. You are right, the angels gained a new choir director! God's Blessings to you all!
Rosetta on June 23, 2016 at 6:48 AM said:

Someone so special can never be forgotten, enjoyed growing up with Virginia in our church leading the chior and trying 2 organize us kids! I can still hear her voice.
Christina (Schmith) Tufty on June 22, 2016 at 8:46 AM said:

Dearest Ruark Family,
Very sad to hear of Virginia's passing, but I am rejoicing with her that she has gone home to the Lord. "Mrs. Ruark" had a substantial impact on me during those years of piano and voice lessons, and to this day, any time I touch a piano I think of her and what a remarkable lady she was. She truly helped shape my love of music and my faith in Christ. I haven't seen her for many years but I can still hear her laugh. I wish you all the best and may God continue to bless you all and send you comfort and peace in your time of loss. -Christina, Ted and Rosie
Mark Birdnow on June 20, 2016 at 7:23 PM said:

Many years ago we met Virginia at Zion Lutheran church. She invited me to choir. I learned so much from her! Just this last Sunday at our little country church we now attend I told the choir about Virginia's passing. I had many times passed on tips about singing that I'd learned from Virginia. She and Bob were such good customers of my business over the years. Once, when they had called me about something, I took care of their concern. They said goodbye, but forgot to shut off their phone. I couldn't help but hear Virginia say, "Now there's a young man who knows how to take care of his customers." It warmed my heart and I'll never forget it! She will be with us for many years because no one is ever really gone...until forgotten.
Chris Hurley on June 20, 2016 at 5:33 PM said:

I find it hard to find words to describe my memories and love of Virginia. When we first became involved in politics, she was such an encouragement and soldier. She was always so positive and found a way to raise the bar just a bit simply by entering the room. She had such an air of grace and class to her, but was kind and loving at the same time. Though we moved from Oelwein almost 20 years ago, I consider her and her family among my most treasured friends. Our love to all of you there, Chuck and Chris Hurley
John Reiter on June 20, 2016 at 4:33 PM said:

Best neighbors my parents had when moving to Oelwein. Always cared about them and looked after them. Our thoughts and prayers going out to Bob and family.
Daryl Olsen on June 20, 2016 at 4:52 AM said:

Trish always enjoyed your mom and her love of music. She was an Oelwein treasure.
Ann Woods on June 19, 2016 at 10:15 PM said:

Mrs. Ruark welcomed me into her home upon arriving to Oelwein. She was a warm and kind person to me and my family from the old neighborhood. Until her final day she was always a welcoming face to see and chat with. I will remember her forever. My thoughts are with you all. She was truely one of a kind.
Candy Jaggard Chesler on June 19, 2016 at 8:12 PM said:

Virginia was a treasure. We shared some musical memories over the years. I hope I can sing in her heavenly choir some day.
Dana Meyers on June 19, 2016 at 4:18 PM said:

What a beautiful lady. I remember her directing cherub choir for us. She always had a certain sparkle in her eyes. Virginia was a wonderful neighbor and will truly be missed. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. She surely was met by the Lord, that she so dearly loved.
Dana Meyers on June 19, 2016 at 4:18 PM said:

What a beautiful lady. I remember her directing cherub choir for us. She always had a certain sparkle in her eyes. Virginia was a wonderful neighbor and will truly be missed. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. She surely was met by the Lord, that she so dearly loved.
Leon Skubinna on June 19, 2016 at 10:55 AM said:

What a nice lady and was always cordial and friendly
when meeting her. My condolences to Bob and family.
Sorry won't be able to attend.
Reg & Millie Thornton on June 18, 2016 at 4:35 PM said:

Our condolences to Virginia's family.
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