Obituaries, October 22, 2009


Mrs. Ruth Stow Fry, age 90, died peacefully on Saturday, October 17, 2009, at Porter Hills Retirement Community from complications of a stroke she suffered on October 6, 2009. For the past 12 years she resided there with her husband, Richard.

Prior to moving to Porter Hills, Ruth and Dick lived in their home on the Rogue River in Rockford for 34 years. Ruth was born in Billings, Montana on May 23, 1919, the third child of Ralph Albert Stow of Caledonia, Mich., and Frances Morris Stow of Reading, Mich. Her older siblings were Dr. Robert Stow of East Lansing, Mich., and Dr. Richard Stow of Worthington, Ohio, both of whom preceded her in death.

Ruth spent most of her childhood in East Lansing, where she graduated from East Lansing High School in 1937 and from Michigan State College (now University) with a degree in music education in 1942 and later, a masters degree in education. She also spent many summers assisting her parents in running a children’s summer camp on Crystal Lake near Frankfort, where many fond memories were formed.

Ruth was an accomplished pianist and won many honors for her piano talents, including the Michigan State Federation of Music Clubs competition in 1937. She and Dick were married in East Lansing on June 16, 1945. Soon after their marriage, Ruth and Dick moved to Midland, Mich., where Dick became the owner of Brown Lumber Company, and Ruth focused on raising their three children. They left Midland in 1961 and, after a brief stay on the west coast, they settled in Rockford in 1962. She joined the teaching staff of the Rockford Public Schools in 1963, and taught elementary education at both Belmont and Parkside elementary schools until she retired from teaching in 1981.

Ruth was delightfully adept at assisting and inspiring her students to fulfill their own potential, and was especially talented at encouraging her own children to aspire and achieve their own successful careers. For over 45 years, Ruth and Dick were active members of the First Congregational Church of Rockford. Ruth will be fondly remembered throughout the Rockford and Porter Hills communities for her ceaseless humor, her keen intellectual curiosity, her exceptional teaching talents and her lifelong dedication to music, especially the piano.

Ruth is survived by Richard, her husband of 64 years; son, Frederick and his wife, Elizabeth of Charlotte, Mich., and their children, Jeffery and Megan; son, David and his wife, Ruth “Ruth Jr.” of Belmont and their daughters, Jennifer (Christopher) Weil and their daughter, Katherine Weil, and Leslie (Ronnie) Thompson; daughter, Dr. Mary and her husband, Robert Black of Evanston, Ill., and their children, Ryan, Jeremy and Jennifer and their grandchild, Nicholas.

A memorial service for Mrs. Fry was held at the First Congregational Church of Rockford on October 19 at 11:00 a.m. with Rev. Laurie TenHave-Chapman officiating. Burial of the cremains was in Rockford Cemetery. The family has suggested Porter Hills Foundation or the First Congregational Church of Rockford for donations in Ruth’s memory.

Arrangements were made by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford.

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