Hastings resident Ruth Margarette (Merkel) Janssen, 93, passed away Friday, October 21, 2022, at Perkins Pavilion Good Samaritan Society-Hastings Village, Hastings, NE.
Memorial Services will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday, November 5, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, west of Glenvil (6075 E Assumption Road, Glenvil, NE 68941) with Pastor Jonathan Jehorek officiating, followed by an interment of ashes at the adjacent Churchyard Cemetery. A lunch at the church will follow the services. Visitation will be 5-7 p.m. with family present, Friday, November 4, at the funeral home. Memorials may be given to St. Paul’s Lutheran Churchyard Cemetery. The service will be live-streamed on Livingston Butler Volland Funeral Home’s website. To view the service, go to Ruth’s obituary and click the play button shown towards the bottom of the page.
Ruth was born July 4, 1929, to Claus and Sarina (Lay) Merkel in Hastings. She was baptized and confirmed at Hanover Presbyterian Church. She attended District 75 School and Hastings High School, graduated from Hastings College in 1948, and earned her bachelor’s degree from the Mary Lanning School of Nursing in 1952. She completed her graduate study in obstetrical nursing at the University of Chicago (Lying-In Hospital). In 1956, she and Harold Janssen were united in marriage and lived on a farm south of Hastings near her childhood home. Both farms have remained in the family for more than a century.
Over the course of 32 years, Ruth served as nursery obstetrical supervisor and instructor, house supervisor, and emergency room nurse at Mary Lanning Hospital. She then worked as a nurse at Good Samaritan Village, Perkins Pavilion, where she played piano for residents and was known for wearing her signature white nursing cap for 20 years before retiring.
Ruth was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, where she taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, and supported volunteer programs. She was a member of the Mary Lanning Nurses Alumni Association and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). She was honored as a 50-year member of the Women’s ELCA in 2013.
A child of the Depression era, she often shared memories that inspired her practical and thoughtful nature. Her earliest memories were of cooking, milking cows, tending livestock, and harvesting wheat. She often recalled how her family hauled cans of cream to town each weekend and bought her ice cream with a nickel of the proceeds.
Frugal toward herself, yet generous to others, Ruth poured her time into cooking, crafting, gardening, and hosting family gatherings. She combined her talents to build gingerbread houses, sew quilts, decorate cookies, and create new things from found materials. With her granddaughters, she made an annual tradition of taking her creations to the Adams County Fair and bringing home ribbons. She was committed to working hard, observing tea time each afternoon (no compromises), and ensuring everyone had a cake on their birthday (also no compromises). Ruth continued to bake extensively and do daily farm chores into her nineties. Those chores included watering cows and feeding a growing herd of barn cats she swore she did not like.
Ruth was preceded in death by her parents; husband; and brother and sister-in-law, Elmer and Maxine Merkel.
She is survived by her daughter, Deborah, and her husband, Robert Jones, Jr.; her son, Mark, and his wife, Susan Janssen; her grandchildren, Robert Jones III, and his wife Ashley; and Sarina and Serese Janssen; and her great-granddaughter, Juniper Jones.
She will be remembered for her endless warmth, and for being the beloved center of her family. We miss her.