Ruth Alice Vinson Fitzenrider
A young girl who had dreams of owning a horse farm grew into a brave 18 year old high school graduate with the courage to move 350 miles from home, marry a WWII veteran and move again to a new city and state to start a family, and continue dreams of an exciting life passed into heaven on February 11, 2022.
Named by her father, Ruth Alice Vinson was born September 17, 1928 in a small southern town of Golconda, Illinois, the third of four children to (Clara) Myrtle McSmith and Thomas Vinson. She shared her home with two sisters, Althea and Evelyn and her younger brother, Henry, or as we call him, Uncle Hank, and as was common in the time, their aunt, Auntie Pearl and her son Bobby, also lived with them. Mom never knew any different family life. She graduated from Golconda High School and moved with her best friend, Ann, to Chicago, Illinois and got a job working for the US Government assisting people with War Bonds. On a blind date with friends she met Paul Fitzenrider, one of the many WWII veterans in the city. They enjoyed cheap dates while he went to school on the GI Bill to learn about refrigeration. This Easter they would have been married 74 years, or as our father says, "forever".
The young couple moved to Defiance, Ohio because our father got a job at Coca-Cola and she found employment at the Lectrolite Corporation (later SK Tools). Dad still talks about her job interview. They said if the government thought she was worth $1 an hour working for them, that was good enough . She beat dad's salary by $2.50 a week. Skip ahead a few years and a few kids and she again showed courage by agreeing to start their own heating and refrigeration business. It grew from their garage and many years later, with the help of countless employees and loyal families and businesses in the Defiance are, into a well respected business. She co-owned Fitzenridger, Incorporated for 42 years.
Mom was a hard worker. She put in countless hours at 'The Shop' as we called it. She volunteered at so many school, community and church functions. They're too many to list. She did spend a large portion of her time with our brother, Pat. He had cerebral palsy and was deaf. When he was young she was tireless in her efforts to find a diagnosis, work with doctors and then find a school program she thought was best for him. For many years she drove him to Tiffin, Ottawa and Findlay for specialized schooling. During his preschool years this meant many trips per week. When he was older she and dad found three wonderful families for him to stay with Monday through Thursdays. She and Pat would leave by 6:30 Monday mornings, in all types of weather to drop him at school and then take his clean laundry to the family he stayed with during the week. She drove back to Defiance to 'The Shop' to answer phones and complete office tasks, manage four other kids, squeeze in housework and volunteer work, and pick Pat back up on Friday's at the end of the school day. She did this for 18 years. Pat died in 1980 and soon after that she received the highest award the Sertoma's can bestow on a non-member, the Service to Mankind Award. It is given to a recipient living their missions through action in the world. It was kind of a big deal. She had her picture on the front page and a big plaque. We found the plaque packed away. We don't think it was that important to her - she was just being a mom.
Like all marriages, mom and dad had difficult moments, but have enjoyed their life together. They enjoyed working hard, living in Defiance and meeting many people who became close friends, and being active in the Presbyterian Church they were welcomed into the first time they visited, about 74 years ago. They have been lucky to travel the world and they've been to all the states in the US but two, but some of the best trips were driving across town to see their grandchildren. If you stop at the house you will see knickknacks from here and there but hundreds of photos of their 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren and scribbled precious art in places of honor.
Mom was brought up in a Christian home and continued that tradition with Paul all her life. Our large family asks you to please join Paul on February 17, 2022 at Schaffer Funeral Home in Defiance from 3:00 - 7:00 pm to share stories, laughter and some tears as we remember our mother. Her final service will be February 18, 2022 at 11:00 am at Schaffer Funeral Home and there will be another time to share following the service with a light meal at the church. Mom's wishes were to be cremated and laid to rest near her deceased sons, David and Patrick at Riverview Memory Gardens.
"So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."
David Fitzenrider (deceased) Josh/Stephanie Fitzenrider, Zachary Fitzenrider, Chuck Fitzenrider, Liesl Fitzenrider; Willa and Thomas, Gretchen/Steve Clark; Henry
Phil/Barb Fitzenrider, Rose/Matt Hollo; Clara and Iris, Allison Fitzenrider, Halley Fitzenrider
Patrick Fitzenrider (deceased)
Jane/Jeff Barber, Peter/Karen Barber; Faith and Joy, Meredith/Andrew Mickey; Eleanor, Evelyn and William Paul, Margaret Ruth/Jeremy Smith; Morgan, Lauren and Hannah, Megan Barber/Grant Philips, Maureen Grace/Nick Killion