Lifelong resident of Nicollet County, Ruth Snyder Larson died on Thursday morning, April 26 at the Benedictine Health Center where she had lived for the past two and a half years. Last month she celebrated her 105th birthday.
Ruth was born on March 4, 1913 at the Lake Prairie Township home of her parents, Nels and Olina Snyder. She was the youngest of five children and next to the youngest of her forty-seven Lokensgard first cousins. She was the last of this generation of stalwart pioneers.
Ruth attended country schools in Nicollet County Districts 32 and 46. From the start, she was an eager student who excelled in her studies, particularly reading and history. After graduating from 8th grade, she attended St. Peter High School and was graduated in 1929, just in time to face the adversities of the Great Depression. Undaunted, she attended Gustavus Adolphus College, graduating in 1933 with majors in English and History.
From an early age, Ruth was active in the Oshawa 4-H Club, excelling in a variety of homemaking activities. Her involvement in 4-H work culminated in her election as President of the Minnesota Federation of 4-H Clubs in June of 1933.
In June of 1934 Ruth married Ted Larson and moved to the farm south of St. Peter where they lived and thrived for fifty-three years. Here they raised three children: Joanne of Roseville, Minnesota; David of Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Lori of Puyallup, Washington.
For Ruth, farm life provided many opportunities. She became an excellent gardener, known for her beautiful flower beds and especially her rows and rows of colorful gladiolas. She was an enthusiastic member of the Oshawa Garden Club, spearheading several elaborate flower shows. In addition to gardening, she was an accomplished seamstress, sewing not only for herself but for her two daughters. Up until the last, she continued to wear garments that she had made. Long winter nights on the farm gave Ruth plenty of time for her favorite activity which was reading, and not just any reading. She particularly loved Tolstoy, Victor Hugo, and Sigrid Undset and continued to read and re-read these authors until a couple of years ago when her eye sight declined.
In 1987 Ruth and Ted moved to a house in St. Peter just across the parking lot from First Lutheran Church which they had attended all their married lives. Ruth was active in many church activities, but she particularly cherished her years as a choir member and as a Sunday School teacher.
Ruth’s other involvements included membership in the Gustavus Library Associates, the Nicollet County Historical Society, Lakeside Bible Society, and the Nicollet County Farm Bureau.
Ruth and Ted also enjoyed travel to destinations throughout the United States and the world, including trips to all 50 states, Cuba, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, the Soviet Union, Africa, and South America.
After the death of her husband Ted in 1991, Ruth lived on Church Street for another eight years, surviving the tornado of 1998 which did massive damage to her home. In 2005 she moved to Heritage Meadows where she lived happily until June of 2013 when she moved to Benedictine Court Assisted Living. After two and a half years there, she moved to the Benedictine Health Center.
Even though the last couple of years were a struggle for Ruth, her family and friends choose to remember her as a talented, intelligent, and productive woman who set a high standard for her children and others. All who knew her marveled at her prodigious memory and enjoyed the stories she told about life in the “olden days.” She wrote extensive histories of both the Snyder and the Larson families. She was frequently contacted to identify individuals in pictures, to provide pertinent dates, and to elaborate on events of the past. She never disappointed in this regard.
Survivors include daughter Joanne Karvonen and husband David, son David Larson and wife Jody, and daughter Lori Larson. Grandsons include John Karvonen (Tanya), Andy Karvonen (Sonya), Jeff Miller (Nane), Matt Miller, and Rob Larson. Great-grandchildren include Luke and Max Karvonen and Nina and Aaron Miller.
A memorial service will be held at First Lutheran Church in St. Peter on Saturday, May 12 at 11 a.m. Preceding the service will be a visitation in the church narthex at 10 a.m. A lunch will be served following the service. Memorials are preferred to First Lutheran Church in St. Peter or the Nicollet County Historical Society.