Obituary Details

Bess Frances Ruffing

(06/15/1909 - 06/16/2013)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 06/19/2013

Bess Frances Ruffing, born June 15, 1909 joined her husband in death one day following her 104th birthday, where she was commemorated by the city of Lusk for her outstanding citizenship. Born Bess Frances Anstice to John and Ethel Anstice in Maywood, Nebraska, Bess moved to Lusk in 1915 with her parents and sister Edith. Bess and her family lived in a tent while they built their home on the homestead. She graduated from Lusk High School in 1927. After receiving her teaching certificate Bess taught in one room schools for three years. Bess married William Jennings Ruffing on April 20, 1930. Bess and Jennings had five children: Patricia, John, Mary, Judy and Jennings Jr.

She was preceded in death by husband Jennings, Patricia and husband Chuck Smith, John and Jennings, Jr., and is survived by Mary (Russ Ogle) and Judy Sherer. Bess is survived by her grandchildren: Fran, Lee, Jackie, Vickie, and Stan from Patricia and Chuck; Brenda, Mike and Barbara from John; Bob, Bill and Terri from Mary and Russ; and James and John from Judy. She is also survived by nieces and nephews: Fred Thomas and Donna Ruffing of Lusk and others from out of town; numerous great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, and great-great-great-grandchildren.

Bess lived an incredible life, remaining an active member of her community until her hospitalization in 2011, attending most home and away sporting events for the school. She also attended as many events as possible with her friends at the senior center. Anybody that was blessed with meeting her immediately loved her. Bess will be missed by a great many people whose lives she has inspired, affected, and touched. She would encourage all who survive her to continue on enjoying life to their best of their ability. Bess is quoted saying "What will be, will be," and "Why complain? Nobody wants to hear it anyway."

Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, June 22, 2013, at St. George Episcopal Church in Lusk. Memorials may be made to Niobrara Senior Center, Niobrara Health and Life Center, St. George Episcopal Church, or to an organization of the donor's choice.

Pier Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

The Lusk Herald
June 19, 2013
Centenarian Bess Ruffing celebrates last birthday

by Phillip Collins, contributing writer

She reached the age of 104 on Saturday, June 15. Then, on the very next day, Bess Ruffing ended her sojourn on this side of existence. The local centenarian passed away at Niobrara County Health & Life Center on Sunday. Yet, though her passing certainly occasioned tears, one could not contend that Ruffing lived anything short of a full life.

Born in 1909, Ruffing spent the first six years of her life in Maywood, Nebraska. Her subsequent relocation to Wyoming was not a smooth one. For an entire year, Ruffing and her family eked out a meager existence in a tent. This living arrangement exposed her to the dry summers and frigid winters of the Cowboy State.

Ruffing graduated from Lusk High School in 1927. During her high school career, Ruffing enjoyed the distinction of being a three-year starter on the women's basketball team.

Shortly after graduation, she began teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. Her teaching career came to an end, however, when she married Jennings Ruffing in 1930. Together, the couple had a total of five children. Only two of them remain.

Judy Sherer is one of Ruffing's surviving children. According to Sherer, outliving three of her progenies was difficult for Ruffing.

"It was hard for her to watch her children go before her," Sherer said.

Sherer stated that, vocationally, Ruffing wore many hats. during the 60's, the prolific working woman put her skills to use in a baker. After that job came to an end, Ruffing went to work in the meat department of a Safeway. From there, Ruffing went to work at a five and dime store. Lastly, Ruffing acted as the bookkeeper for her husband's numerous professional endeavors. These included a filling station, a refinery, and an electrician business.

According to Sherer, Ruffing remained ambulatory and astute until two years ago. However, a wind-induced fall resulted in a pelvic injury, which slowed the busy centenarian considerably. Nevertheless, Ruffing continued to lead an active life, visiting the Senior Center and Prairie Winds regularly. In fact, Ruffing's frequent excursions to Prairie Winds typically proved to be very profitable. Sherer stated that her mother was quite the gambler.

"She always did very well for herself there," Sherer said.

Ruffing was slated to make an appearance on the Today Show on June 24. Unfortunately, Father Time had other plans. Yet, one thing that has not buried beneath the sands of the hourglass is 104-year legacy of local luminary.

Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, June 22, 2013, at St. George Episcopal Church in Lusk. Memorials may be made to Niobrara Senior Center, Niobrara Health and Life Center, St. George episcopal Church, or to an organization of the donor's choice.

Images & Attachments


Bess Ruffing was presented with a plaque and flowers by Lusk Mayor Pat Smith. It was the last birthday Ruffing had. Photo/Phillip Collins
Jennings and Bess Ruffing celebrate 50 wedded years
Photo courtesy of the Joshua Brackett Eagle Scout Project

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Anstice, Ethel (10/28/1890 - 07/24/1979) View Record
Obituary Avenell, Harry (02/03/1891 - 07/02/1967) View Record
Obituary Avenell, Ann (02/08/1902 - 01/07/1991) View Record
Obituary Smith, Patricia (09/26/1931 - 05/26/2006) View Record
Obituary Jordan, Neil (08/06/1974 - 06/03/1995) View Record
Obituary Nuxoll, Thelma (09/27/1918 - 02/24/1975) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Elizabeth (10/19/1917 - 08/05/1995) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Kenneth (05/07/1934 - 07/11/1987) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Robert (07/21/1912 - 10/12/1989) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Sophia (12/02/1913 - 10/27/1976) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Adam (05/24/1910 - 04/06/2004) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Albert (12/15/1914 - 09/19/1982) View Record
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Obituary Ruffing, Gertrude (12/01/1916 - 04/02/1998) View Record
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Obituary Updike, Edith (09/09/1907 - 01/10/1994) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Peter (11/30/1865 - 07/08/1953) View Record
Obituary Durham, Nola (11/30/-0001 - 02/04/1949) View Record
Obituary Plant, Luella (05/21/1903 - 01/19/1952) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, William (06/28/1951 - 03/09/2008) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Gertrude (12/01/1877 - 05/02/1933) View Record
Obituary Thomas, Jean (07/03/1936 - 07/22/2008) View Record
Obituary Erny, Hubertina (11/03/1900 - 10/17/2004) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Margaret (07/09/1914 - 05/20/2010) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, John (06/10/1934 - 06/16/2010) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Lawrence (01/10/1940 - 01/10/1940) View Record
Obituary Smith, Charles (06/05/1930 - 07/11/2012) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Brian (11/23/1969 - 09/12/2012) View Record
Obituary Anstice, John (01/08/1884 - 07/21/1973) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Michael (11/27/1890 - 07/04/1955) View Record
Obituary Ruffing, Donna (12/27/1945 - 03/31/2020) View Record
Historical Centenarians of Lusk View Record
Historical Niobrara Chamber of Commerce View Record
Obituary Dugan, Juddee (12/08/1960 - 06/27/2022) View Record