Martinez, CA April 21, 2020 Retired County Clerk, former teacher, beloved mother & grandmother Ruth Howard, 82, found peace after a courageous battle with dementia. Born December 21, 1937 in northern Minnesota, Ruth was the youngest child of Ernest & Evelyn Paul. She twice married & divorced Loren “Red” Howard. They had 2 children. Ruth was preceded in death by her parents, sisters Naomi Paul & Bess Metsa, brothers Richard Paul & Gerald Paul, and grandson Nicholas Howard.
A graduate of Bemidji State College, Ruth taught English, Speech, and Drama at Browerville High School in central Minnesota. She was a respected teacher and a creative director, not only of high school plays, but also of community productions. Ruth later worked as a community outreach organizer in Little Falls, MN before relocating to Washington DC, where she was employed as Public Relations Coordinator for Goodwill Industries. Resilience, independence, & resourcefulness were hallmarks of Ruth’s journey. In the early ’90’s, Ruth made a final move to be near her daughter and family in northern California. She took a job grading papers for an alternative school before landing a challenging but rewarding County Clerk position with the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office in Martinez. Oh! The stories she could tell! She served the county for over a decade before retiring in 2007.
An adoring grandmother, Ruth treasured most her role as Grandma Ruthie. Her love for her grandchildren, and their love for her, brought her strength, joy, laughter, and light. Ruth was also a fan of a good detective novel, crime dramas, and stories of suspense. She enjoyed music, theater, consignment stores, lotto scratchers, and crossword puzzles, usually with a cigarette and a cup of black coffee or a favorite cocktail nearby, though she was smoke-free for the last 15 years and celebrated sobriety for the last decade of her life.
In 2009, still independent and living alone, she showed early signs of dementia. In 2010, after suffering injuries from an attack by a German shepherd, Ruth needed assistance and support, and began living with her daughter and son-in-law. Between 2010 and 2013, she joyfully welcomed two great-grandsons whom she was blessed to meet and know. Tragically, she lost her grandson Nicholas, age 23, in October 2013. She flew to New Hampshire with her daughter to be by her son’s side for the funeral. In 2016, as an innocent in a bitter estrangement, Ruth was not allowed to meet her youngest great-granddaughter, born in February. From that point on, her wish to see three of her great-grandchildren would be denied.
Late in March, 2016, dementia worsening, Ruth fell and broke her hip. She entered a nursing facility, where she resided for four years. In 2020, following pandemic-imposed separation from family, Ruth’s condition deteriorated and she was transferred mid-April to Contra Costa Medical Center. In her final days, she received compassionate care from doctors Sanchez, Longstroth, and Chang, and staff who gave comfort to ease her pain. They also relaxed restrictions to allow Ruth’s daughter to be by her side in Ruth’s final hours. In this uncertain time, Ruth’s family is grateful for these gifts of grace.
Her love for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren never failed, and she will forever watch over and guide them. Ruth is survived by daughter Ramona (Steve Lappier); son Daniel (Michelle Duplessis-Howard, div.); grandsons Corey Lappier, Casey (Melissa Pitts) Lappier, Loren D. Howard; great-grandchildren Lydia Hoisington-Howard, Kemper, Krew, & Karsen Lappier; numerous nieces & nephews; dear ones Shaleah, Jess, & Natalie. Ruth’s family thanks the dedicated, hard-working care providers at Legacy Nursing and the compassionate staff at Connolly & Taylor Funeral Home. Ruth chose cremation. No service is planned.
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