Ruth (Unrau) Schmidt, 96, died on Monday, August 29, at Newton Medical Center. She was born on August 19, 1920 to David and Marie (Balzer) Unrau at their home east of Inman, Kansas. Ruth attended a country school, Blaze Fork, for eight years and then Inman High School, graduating valedictorian of the Class of 1938. She attended Bethel College for two years, obtained a teaching certificate, and taught for two years at Emmenthal School, a one-room school in Marion County. During that time Ruth was involved with Tabor Mennonite Church as a pianist and choir director and there met Art Schmidt. They married on June 3, 1942 and celebrated their seventy-fourth wedding anniversary with family this past June. Together Art and Ruth operated a small grain and dairy operation. With her gentle touch, Ruth was particularly skilled at milking the cows. While raising their children, Ruth continued her involvement with church music and Sunday School, EHU, and the Bethel College Parents’ Association. She loved sewing and made many of her own clothes as well as her children’s. Her children and grandchildren remember her as a skilled baker and good cook; she carefully organized and prepared many holiday dinners over the years.
In the 1970’s and 80’s, Art and Ruth were foster parents to about one dozen children and youth through several agencies as well as through informal channels. They also hosted a Bethel College student from a big city, offering a month-long cross-cultural learning experience on their farm. In retirement, Ruth volunteered with the Newton schools at South Breeze, Slate Creek, and Walton Rural Life Center where her own children had attended. She was also a regular election poll worker and a long-time volunteer with the Newton Et Cetera Shop and RSVP. Along with Art, Ruth was active in various social groups including the Walton Red Hat Society, the Over Forty Club (all members were eventually over 80 years), a square dance club, and the informal coffee gathering at the Whistle Stop Café in Walton.
Ruth was preceded in death by her parents and her siblings Norma (Elmer) Suderman; Delia (Gordon) Dyck; and Paul (who died at the age of four); a daughter Elaine (Verlin) Bartel; a stillborn son George Alan; and a stillborn grandson Alan Matthies Schmidt. Survivors include husband Arthur A. Schmidt of North Newton; brother-in-law Gordon Dyck of Estes Park, Colorado; son-in-law Verlin Bartel of Kansas City; son Archie (Kristin) Schmidt of Peabody; daughter Ada (Wes) Schmidt-Tieszen of Newton; grandchildren Heather (David) Bradford of Ottumwa, Iowa; Olivia Bartel of Murdock, Kansas; Jody Schmidt of Chicago; Luke (Sarah) Schmidt of College Station, Texas; Katy Schmidt of Peabody; Tina (Dan) Graber of Freeman, South Dakota; and Alison Schmidt-Tieszen of Denver; great-grandchildren Anna and Isaac Bradford of Ottumwa, Iowa and Adaline Graber of Freeman, South Dakota.
Celebration of Life service is at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 4, at Tabor Mennonite Church, Newton, Kansas. Visitation with family is 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 3, in Menno Hall at Kidron Bethel Retirement Village, North Newton, Kansas. Memorials may be designated in Ruth’s memory to Bethel College or Mennonite Central Committee.