The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Meet Your Neighbor

by Joyce Wolf and Dessa Rodeffer, The Quill

Meet your neighbor Ruth Olsen, born and raised in Raritan where she has lived all of her life except for 16 weeks during the time her husband was in the service.

Ruth was born in 1933 in the home of her parents Leo and Mattie Wallace of Raritan.

She grew up in that loving home with two brothers and three sisters, all deceased except her youngest sister, Sammy (Blender).

"I can look down from my patio and see the room where I was born," Ruth said. "Steve and Jo Stull live there today".

Ruth attended grade school in Raritan and graduated from Media High School in 1951. That same year she met a new boy at the Raritan Baptist Church, Orlin Olsen, also her neighbor. They were dating by the end of that year, and later were married on September 18, 1955 by his father, the Reverend Henry (Marian) Olsen who was pastor at Ruth's church from 1951 to 1959.

Ruth began working at the Raritan State Bank in September 1951. She had several gaps in her employment in those years and permanently retired in November 2003, although she still fills in as a substitute.

Orlin and Ruth's first child, Brian Eugene, was born in 1960 but sadly, died when he was 8 weeks old. He never got to come to Raritan, but waits in his heavenly home.

Douglas Kyle was born in 1961 and is married to Cindie. He is a paramedic in Gibson City and Champaign. Cindie is a preschool teacher in the New Horizon Church in Champaign and in the fall she helps out at a local orchard. She also substitute teaches and has been a 'nanny'. They live in Mahomet and have two children. Kyle 18, is a Senior at Mahomet High School, and Hannah 14, is a Freshman.

Ruth's youngest, Sandra was born in 1966 and is married to Ed Marsh. Sandra is a 4th grade teacher in Elgin and Ed is a computer engineer and works in a Chicago suburb.

They live in Elgin and have three children. Allison is 13 and their twin boys Cameron and Joshua are 8 years old.

Ruth's husband Orlin was drafted into the U.S. Army in May of 1957 and had basic training in Ft. Carson, CO and from their was stationed in Ft. Gordan near Augusta, GA. Ruth still worked at the bank but took time off to join him at Ft. Gordan during his 16 weeks at signal school.

From Georgia Orlin was shipped to France and Ruth returned to Raritan and worked at Harden's Grocery Store where she had worked in high school. When the Raritan State Bank had an opening, she returned to work there.

After 18 months in France, Orlin was released from the service, his 2 years completed. He came back to Raritan and worked for G and O Corn Shelling (Gibb and Overstreet) for several years before starting at the Raritan Feed and Farm Supply in 1966 for 30 years.

Ruth's dad was a painter - barns, houses, anything. He died New Year's Day 1966 at the age of 74.

Ruth's mom was a wonderful homemaker. She took in washings and ironings and raised six kids. They had a milk cow ('dad helped milk') and chickens ('we helped gather eggs'). Back in the thirties the farm animals were allowed in town and of course everyone had a big garden. 'Mom canned and I helped and I picked strawberries', Ruth said.

Ruth's oldest brother LeRoy was 13 years older than Jolly, and worked with a Peoria Construction Company.

Jolly worked for Wayne Waddill trucking and later at Case after they moved to Lomax.

Wanda Denton was a tax consultant and homemaker. She moved to Houston, Texas.

Babe Stull worked at Wine-gard and was a homemaker in Raritan.

They are all deceased and Ruth has one living sister, Sammy Blender who is a retired school teacher and a Raritan Village Trustee.

When Ruth was at Media High School, she was a cheerleader and in the Girls Athletic Association of which she was the president and went to camp in Bloomington. As a Future Homemakers of America, she went to the national convention in Kansas City, Missouri along with her home economics teacher Ruth Schwartz and Vieva Lindgren Pence.

In Ruth's work history are three Grocery Stores, Perrine and Harden Grocery Stores, and Gene's Red Fox, along with the Raritan Bank, and these were all within walking distance of her home. Her mom didn't drive, and was always at home so they never went hungry.

Ruth has attended the Raritan Baptist Church, across the street from her house, all her life. She took piano lessons in Roseville for 2 1/2 years, until the teacher moved.

"I do what I can for my church and count it a privilege that they let me play the organ for worship services. I like to keep busy and am just thankful God lets me still work. God is so good and He has certainly taken good care of me all these years," Ruth said.

Ruth is and has been involved in several aspects of her church. She has loved to serve the Lord wherever needed.

In her free time, Ruth enjoys reading, playing the piano, cooking, playing games and WORKING! Now that's a fulfilled life!

In going along with her love of life, Ruth loves SNOW. One time when it was falling, she was going to make a snow angel and she couldn't get up. Orlin had to come out and help her up.

Their kids always come home for Easter and the 4th of July and they go to Doug's or Sandra's for Thanksgiving. Several came this summer for the Fun Run at the Henderson County Fair and everyone enjoyed that.

Orlin has a big garden and they do canning and freezing all summer. When they sit down for a meal, they've raised everything but the meat, and the kids favorites are their mother's party potatoes and her goulash.

Ruth still enjoys working part time at the bank to see the people, and she says,"I'll keep on keeping on, as long as God lets me."

Ruth also mention how much she looks forward to the Quill's Christmas book and how she has kept everyone of them.