“In Memoriam” listings are expanded paid obituaries, phrased as the family requests, and may include enhanced information or photographs that might not fit within free death notices.
Ruth Elizabeth Pankratz, 98, died peacefully July 26, 2016, at home in Santa Maria, California, surrounded by many of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
A joyous celebration of her life was held with many of her family on July 27.
Ruth was born May 9, 1918, the daughter of Charles and Bessie (Funk) Cockley in Peabody, Kansas. On Oct. 26, 1940, she married Earl Cecil Pankratz in Kansas City, Missouri. They were married almost 75 years. He preceded her in death, May 25, 2015.
Ruth lived most of her life in Marion County, Kansas, although she and Earl lived the last 20 years in Newton, Kansas. After his death in May 2015, she moved to Santa Maria, California, to live with family. Ruth had always loved California after spending three years in San Diego with Earl, who was stationed there in the Army during World War II. She so much enjoyed her last year as she was able to go to the beach many times, put her feet in the sand, and just look out at the ocean.
Ruth graduated from Emporia State Teacher’s College, Kansas, in 1940 with a degree in music education. She taught music in several different schools in and around Marion County including Lamont, Clements, Burns, and Peabody, as well as giving private music lessons for 25 years. In the mid 1960s she went back to Emporia State to get her elementary teaching credential, going on to teach fifth grade in Marion, Kansas, for over an additional 15 years until she retired at the age of 65. She loved to teach, and she was a beloved teacher as many of her students came back to visit her over the past 30 years.
She loved music and passed that love on to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, several of whom have gone on to make music their profession.
Ruth was a strong Christian and believed in the power of prayer to sustain herself and her family. She was the ultimate devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She always played with and related closely to her grandchildren when they visited her or she visited them. Her grandchildren particularly came to love her as she regularly wrote letters to all of them, and when she learned to use a computer at the age of 85 would email them her love and share her values, humor, and wisdom with them.
Through her life and by example, she taught all her children and later in-laws and grandchildren the value of serving others. During the last 20 years in Newton, she would walk over to Asbury Park to visit the residents, to sing with them and play the organ for church services. All of her children chose occupations in teaching or other public service occupations.
Ruth had two brothers, Walter and Max, and two sisters, Marjorie Kottwitz and Eloise Truax, all of whom preceded her in death.
Ruth is survived by her five children, Beverly Sloan and husband, Bruce, of Butte, Montana; Dennis Pankratz and wife, Mary Ellen, of Santa Maria, California; Judy Carpenter and husband, Ron, of Monroe, Washington; Charles Pankratz and wife, Nancy, of Madison, Kansas; and Karen Pankratz of Santa Maria, California; 12 grandchildren, and 21 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of any flowers or gifts, Ruth requested that anyone wishing to give a memorial gift in her name give to their favorite Christian organization.