Early in the morning, August 7, 2020, Ruth Ann Pfeil (AKA Little Ruthy, Ruth Anderson, Mrs. Jim Pfeil) left this world, struck down by Covid 19 and that day ended an era in our family. She was the last of the children(and their spouses) of her parents Harry and Anna Anderson and the last of the children (and their spouses) of Walter and Laura Pfeil. She was born August 29, 1925, on a farm near Worthington, Minnesota and raised in the Depression era thus laying the foundation for her instinct to keep and “recycle” everything that could be used again!
She was the little Swedish girl following three big brothers; Edgar, Carl and Clarence. Ruth met James Pfeil (the newly moved to the “city” farm boy) in Worthington and soon the former Turkey Day Queen was smitten. During the challenging early half of the 1940s, she moved to Texas briefly with her family to support her brother Edgar and his dream of attending Texas A&M and Ruth helped support her mother during her cancer battle, all the time patiently waiting for Jim to return from the European Theater during World War II. The year 1945 was bittersweet, Anna Anderson was buried in July and in August, Jim came home just in time for the beautiful wedding Ruth had planned for September for her and her hero.
Following the dream of being small business owners, the couple moved to Owatonna, Minnesota, where Jim worked for his brother in his variety store and Doug and Janna were born. They continued to pursue that dream in 1950 when they bought the variety store in Armstrong, Iowa, and Heidi was born in Iowa. Ruth was always the supporting partner in Pfeil’s Variety through remodels, expansions, new product lines and even satellite stores. The Pfeil kids were raised to honor entrepreneurship and taught customer service early (and how to count back change)!
She loved making flower arrangements with the lovely plastic flowers sold in the store! However, the store never interfered with her active life in the community: service organizations, Republican party, bridge clubs, study club, more bridge clubs, United Methodist Church and of course some crazy antics with her crazy best friends- all the time making lifelong friendships. Eventually things on Main Street started changing, the store was sold in 1969 and Ruth and Jim both began work at Arts Way Manufacturing making more of those great friends before retiring again. During this time, she and Jim became essentially the Humane Society of Armstrong, rescuing many neglected and abused dogs and cats. They also looked after many people who needed a little extra help in the community and were avid supporters and volunteers for Goodwill Industries. For over 60 years Ruth and family lived in only 2 houses- across the street from the school and then the new home built in Leach’s pasture in 1965 next to good friends Betty and Effner Opsal.
Spring Creek Assisted Living became their new home in 2010 with a view of adopted family Phyllis and Arden Jongberg’s farm and creek and eventually after Jim died, Ruth moved to Valley Vue Care Center where Ruth and Jim had previously volunteered for most of the history of the facility. Ruth often told her family how she hoped the nursing home wouldn’t “get all her money “and sadly it did, but in return the staff at Valley Vue Care Center gave her the best care possible and solace for the loneliness of not having Jim as a companion in the final years!
Ruth and Jim pretty much never missed an important event in the lives of their children and grandchildren: Doug and Shirlie (deceased) and children Aaron (Michelle) and Amber (Karl); Janna (Bruce) and children Anna (Brett), Sara (Ryan) and Erik; Heidi and children Elizabeth (Eric), Colin. Although she tried, it was harder to attend the 12 great and 3 great, great grandchildren’s special moments.
What can we say- she loved cooking and entertaining for friends and family, “fussing” over family, playing cards (and Rumikub) with friends and family, and always making new friends while maintaining old ones as well as serving the Methodist Church and forging bonds with the pastors and their families from Rev Sam Polovina to Rev Lyn Roesler. She did everything with a smile(while Jim waited patiently for her final adjustment of her hair or window shades or whatever needed to be set right)! We all love and miss you both!
A memorial for Ruth will be held Sunday, June 27 during the 9:00AM service at the United Methodist Church in Armstrong. All are welcome and a coffee reception hosted by her family will be held after church.
If you have a fond memory of Ruth you wish to honor, please donate to:
Humane Society of Northwest Iowa, 607 28th St., Milford, IA, 51351, in her name.