Christian 17

Barbara Jane Ruthroff (Snyder) Gates

October 12, 1924 ~ September 26, 2020 (age 95)


September 26, 2020

Obituary for Barbara Jane Ruthroff Gates

Born on October 12, 1924 to Enos and Roselyn Snyder in Los Angeles, California Barbara grew up in the shadow of the Hollywood movie culture of the 20s and 30s. Her father was a studio carpenter amongst other things and Barbara went to school in Hollywood graduating from Hollywood High School. During high school she met Jim Ruthroff and they were married in July of 1945. World War II was on and off they went to Salina, Kansas after a whirlwind honey moon at the Riverside Mission Inn in, yep, Riverside, California. 

After the war and Jim’s time at USC becoming a Structural Engineer, they settled in a two-story home on Sleepy Hollow Drive in Glendale, California and proceeded to have Charles Floyd and Salli Jane Ruthroff. Ten years after Salli came mom’s “Little Pumpkin” Donald James and the family was complete. The family thrived in Glendale and Barbara’s beloved Jim even became the City of Glendale’s Building Inspector for a period as he built his career in Structural Engineering. 

Jim was an avid private pilot and amongst their travels, Barbara and Jim made a couple of flying safaris, one in New Zealand and one in Australia. Also becoming a Structural Engineer, unbeknownst to Jim was his childhood friend Ben Schmid and Ben and his wife Jean met up with Barbara and Jim at a Structural Engineer’s Association convention and from then they were inseparable with children marking almost exactly the same ages. 

Summers were in Balboa Island, California with the Pearl Street gang and what a time that was for everyone. Barbara was a home maker always and enjoyed her church activities at Hollywood Lutheran Church and her PEO sisterhood. And then there was the “Crazy Bridge Group” that included Chuck, Salli and Don’s god mother Voya Giesy… Auntie Voya and Uncle Sam and their two children Sammy and Debbie were always a part of Barbara’s extended family and so very dear to her. 

When Jim was killed in a plane crash in 1980, Barbara used her deep faith and love of God to make her way through the grief to new adventures that saw her marry the second love of her life Don F. Gates in 1985 and go on to another nearly twenty years of wedded bliss. Don and Barbara traveled and enjoyed their time on Balboa Island where Barbara had moved, two streets over to Emerald Avenue, following Jim’s death. 

After Barbara said good by to her dear Don, the adventures weren’t over yet. She began to commute from Balboa Island to Bainbridge Island where Salli and her husband Carl had settled with their children, there was no keeping Grami Great or GG away from her beloved grand children. After commuting for several years, Barbara, at age 81, left her native California for the last time as a resident and moved to Bainbridge Island, Washington so she could have as much time as possible with her grand children and eventually great grand children. 

Her final move was in 2015 to Gig Harbor, Washington again to stay close to her beloved family. She made new friends in the last stage of her life at The Lodge and enjoyed her time there. 

Barbara was a life long Lutheran and loved her God and Church. She did a brief (nearly twenty years) stint as a Methodist when she was married to Dad Gates, but she was always a Lutheran at heart and loved her pot-lucks and coffee hour where she knew everyone and if she didn’t know them at the beginning of coffee hour, she did by the end. 

In the evening of September 26, 2020 Barbara completed a week-long transitional journey from her walk here on earth and she was reunited with the love of her life Jim just forty years to the day that she lost him. She had made nearly ninety-six journeys around the sun. 

Barbara’s understanding of family surpassed the limited definition of mere biology and included all colors, creeds, orientations and life experiences. For example, it included Chuck’s fraternity brothers from the Chi Phi house at USC and of those were her dear four Wisconsin sons, Don, Loren, Dick and Bob. She was a pioneer of Chosen Family, something that we are only now coming to embrace. She embraced it from her soul. 

Barbara is survived by her eldest son Charles Floyd Ruthroff, her daughter Salli Jane Middleton and her husband Carl White Middleton III, and her “Little Pumpkin” Donald James Ruthroff and his husband Jonathan Mark Kronn; four (4) grand children and their spouses and partners and ten (10) great grand children. Barbara will be cremated and her ashes spread at a later time. 

In lieu of flowers donations to the P.E.O. Foundation; Agnus Dei Lutheran Church, Gig Harbor, WA; or the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus

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