Ruth Margaret (Sprengeler) Hahn



Ruth in 1988
Ruth in 1988

Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project
Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project

(February 11, 1923 - December 4, 2013)


The Lusk Herald
December 11, 2013



Mrs. Ruth Margaret Hahn, formerly of Lusk, Wyoming, passed to her heavenly reward on December 4, 2013 in Lakewood, Colorado. She was preceded in death by her husband Sigmund Hahn, daughter Barbara (Hahn) Wright, and a brother Marlin Sprengeler. She is survived by a daughter Carol (Jack) Ott of Lakewood, Colorado; a son Paul (Mary) Hahn of Houston Texas; a daughter Judy (Joel) Talbot of Northglenn, Colorado; a daughter Sue (Randy) Tucker of Riverton, Wyoming; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and brothers Vernon Sprengeler and Robert Sprengeler.

Ruth was born on February 11, 1923 in Burt, North Dakota, the daughter of the Reverend Walter F. and Margaret (Huenerberg) Sprengeler. She attended Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota, from which she obtained her elementary school teaching credentials. Her first teaching assignment was at Zion Elementary Lutheran School in Valentine, Nebraska. This was where she met her future husband, whose father was the Pastor at Zion at the time.

Ruth and Sigmund were married on August 29, 1948 in Hoskins, Nebraska. During their married life they lived in several locations throughout the West, including Cheyenne, WY; Ogden, UT; Oklahoma City, OK, and Denver, CO. In 1962 the family settled in Lusk. They were members of St. Paulís Lutheran Church congregation there for 46 years.

Over the course of her life, she served as a homemaker, church organist, babysitter, nurses aide, high school cook, and member of the Ladies Aid. Her interests included quilting and handicrafts, pinochle and bridge clubs, and crossword puzzles. She and Sigmund also traveled several times to England and Europe.

Funeral services for Ruth will take place at St. Paulís on Saturday, December 14, 2013. A viewing will take place at 10:00 AM, followed by the funeral service at 11:00. Burial will be in Lusk Cemetery immediately following the service, when Ruth will once again be joined side-by-side in heaven and on earth with her beloved Sigmund.

Donations may be made either to St. Paulís Lutheran Church at PO Box 1245, Lusk, WY 82225, or to the Alzheimerís Association at http://www.alz.org/. Alternatively, call the Association at 1-888-979-9528.

Pier Funeral Home in Lusk is in charge of arrangements.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul....

Psalm 23



The Lusk Herald
January 15, 2014
At Ruth's house, dinner was at 5

by Randy Tucker
Riverton Ranger

In all the time I knew my mother-in-law, I heard her complain exactly once.

There is an enigmatic photograph of young, smiling couple in a very small frame on my wife's bed stand. The black-and-white photo probably was captured with a Brownie camera and has taken on the slightly magenta tone of age.

The smiling young man has his arms wrapped around a happy young woman wearing a late 1940s hair style. I never knew this couple as pictured, but a third of a century in the future I would know them well as my wife's parents, Sigmund and Ruth Hahn.

I look at the photo almost every day, and it brings to mind the transient journey that is life. It also takes me back to a simpler time and place for the young couple.

In the film "Field of Dreams" there is a similar sentiment when Ray Kinsella meets the ghost of his father for the first time on the baseball field he built in an Iowa cornfield.

"My God, I only saw him later, when he was worn down by life. Look at him. He has his whole life in front of him, and I'm not even a glint in his eye," Ray says to his wife.

Ruth passed away last week at the venerable age of 90 after a long, bitter battle with Alzheimer's disease. The final five years were far from golden, as the ravages of this cruel disease slowly took the present from her and left her with only fleeting images of her past.

Born in 1923 to a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran minister, life wasn't easy for Ruth Sprengeler and her family. Living on a minister's limited income in the unbelievably harsh conditions of eastern South Dakota and Minnesota during the Great Depression were challenge enough, but Ruth lost her mother at a young age and was raised by a stepmother.

Challenges abounded in her life but in the slightly more than three decades I knew her I only heard her complain once. As we visited her youngest daughter, Barb, in Denver back in 2002, I heard Ruth say, "You poor girl, it just isn't fair."

Barb, my wife Sue's youngest sister, was in a losing battle of her own at 39, passing away from cancer later that year.

Ruth was first and foremost a wife to her husband, Pete, (the nickname my father-in-law was known by to family and friends). Perhaps this level of devotion to a spouse was once the norm, but aside from black-and-white television shows from the 1950s, you don't see the dedication to a husband anymore that Ruth displayed routinely.

She followed Pete to Cheyenne, to Ogden, Utah, to Oklahoma City, to Denver and, finally, to Lusk in 1962.

They were only going to stay in Lusk for two years, but that stretched to nearly half a century. They raised their family of five, four daughters and a son, in a house they built just a block north of the high school.

Ruth probably had the least interest in athletics of any person I ever met. Her quiet, selfless demeanor often had me wondering if she ever expressed a contrary opinion. If she did, it was in private, because her actions were always aimed at helping someone else.

As the grandmother of 11, she was proud of her second-generation family. Four of her grandsons went on to collegiate athletic careers, and Grandma often was challenged to games of catch, tumbling, races and tossing the Frisbee in the big Hahn backyard on Oil Street. Even when the children were just 6 or 7, Grandma had trouble throwing and catching with them. But it didn't matter. She loved a bit of rough house play with the kids.

Ruth began her career as a Lutheran parochial school teacher, but, after marrying Pete and starting their family, she didn't return to the classroom. She did take her prodigious musical talents to the church organ, and for 46 years she accompanied church services as an organist.

Ruth and Pete met at a Bunco party in the basement of a Lutheran church sometime in 1947. Their fathers had been classmates at the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, and family speculation had them setting the young couple up.

While the differences between Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Synod Lutherans are imperceptible to outsiders, the differences often were the topic of many discussions at the Hahn house.

I first met Ruth when she was one of the school cooks at Lusk High School, where I began my teaching career in 1980. Little did I know that the nice, smiling lady filling my tray would be the mom of the love of my life.

Ruth's meals at home were legendary. She took pride in cooking and caring for her family, and mealtime came with military precision.

Breakfast could vary slightly with the plans for the day, but lunch was at high noon, and dinner came at five, with few exceptions.

She beamed when her dining room was nearly standing room only, with all the leaves in the table, and children and grandchildren stacked tightly around it.

In retrospect it didn't surprise me that the last words I heard Ruth say were "Thank you," as a nurse swabbed her lips in the hospital last week in Denver.

The smiling young couple is together again. The ravages of a mind-stealing disease are gone. But that photograph remains as daily reminder of the fickleness of time.

Editor's note: Randy Tucker is a staff writer and columnist for the Riverton Ranger and a retired educator. He began his career teaching history and coaching in Lusk in 1980.








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