Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Biography of Ruth Mary Ilg

April 10th 2015 was one of the saddest days of my life. That's the day my maternal grandmother passed away. Next to my paternal grandfather, my grandma always in my life. We were very close. She was the reason I got into genealogy. It was her family photos that got me interested in researching. She had decided long ago that she didn't want to have a funeral or memorial of any kind. She just wanted to be cremated and to have her ashes scattered in the Big River where her husband, mother, father and aunt's ashes were scattered. We have yet to scatter them as I think it is too hard for my mom to consider it. In the mean time, I created my own little memorial. I wrote a biography of her life that I learned from my research.

*Note: Since I wrote this, I have learned some things about my family that have been very hard to take, especially about my grandma, but I will continue to honor her memory with the original biography I wrote for her.

Ruth Mary Ilg

Ruth Mary Ilg was born on Thursday night, September 9th, 1920 at 11:30 pm at Deaconess Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. She was the first and would be the only child of Joseph and Margaret Ilg. When she was almost a year old, the family moved back to St. Louis where family was located. They moved in with Ruth's great-grandma, Maggie Helfrich at 8229 Michigan Avenue. The house was a boarding house so there were many rooms.  Her Aunt Ruth Mrazek also lived there with her then husband. She remembered living on the first floor while Aunt Ruth and her husband were on the second floor. She attended St. Andrews Catholic school as a child, which she said was the closest school within walking distance. On May 26, 1935, Ruth received her First Communion at St. Andrew's Church. Eighth grade was the highest level in school she completed for which she received a certificate. Growing up, she did a lot of babysitting. She babysat a lot for her cousins, Anna Marie and Joseph Ilg when they were little.  When she was old enough, her father taught her how to drive, which was something even her mom did not know how to do, and was even taught how to do a lot of things that were usually men's work. She remained close with her Aunt Ruth while growing up even when they did not live with Ruth's great-grandma anymore. When they moved to Pennsylvania St., they lived down the street from the Valdes family. At some point, Joseph Valdes and Ruth became acquainted and fell in love. They were married on June 7, 1937 and their first child, Gerald, was born June 14, 1938. After they were married, they lived with her parents on Pennsylvania St. She remembers him being a very controlling and jealous man.  Then came World War II. Joseph did his American duty and went to war for his country. Unfortunately, after the war, he did not come back to Ruth. Joseph met a woman who lived down the street and married her secretly in Hillsboro, Missouri. What was really surprising, was on his marriage license, he listed his wife’s and parents-in-law address as his current address.  So in April of 1942, Ruth and Joseph divorced. Her and her son never heard from him again. In 1943, Ruth, her son and her parents moved to 9223 Coral Street. Ruth worked a full time job to help pay for bills while her mom looked after her son. She was working at White Line Laundry on Watson Road when in walked Les Wheeler, a very handsome delivery man. They both worked for the laundry establishment. It wasn't long before the two of them fell in love. Les and her son, Jerry, hit it off wonderfully. So on January 13, 1945, Ruth and Les were married. They lived at 7258 McKenzie in Affton, Missouri. They would have three children of their own over the next few years: Les Jr., Maggie, and Howard. After Maggie was born, they moved out to High Ridge. They became members of Fellowship Baptist church. They lived in High Ridge for most of their marriage. Les owned his own Used Car Lot and junk yard to fix up cars. Life was good at times, although rough at times. Ruth was in a serious car accident when Maggie and Howard were just kids. She was hit by a drunk driver and broke her collar bone.  Les was electrocuted himself one time while working on his CB equipment. As a family they would take vacations together to the Lake of the Ozarks, down to Tennessee where Les was born and still had family there, and even later in life, they were able to take a trip to Hawaii.  Growing up, her best friend was Virginia. They went on many vacations together and were involved in many organizations as well as Ruth's mom. She was involved in The Daughters of America along with many other organizations. When the kids were much older, and Jerry and Les were married, Ruth and her family moved to 2216 Doran Drive in 1970, which is still there today. They lived there for many years having family gatherings, watching their grand-children grow up, enjoying many parties with friends, etc. Christmas was always the best time. Sadly though, in 1983, Ruth's husband passed away from an Aneurysm. He had been sick for a little while with blood clots and it was only a matter of time. It was a sad time for family, but everyone celebrated the great times they were still able to enjoy with family. Ruth has lived long enough to see four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.  She was known to the little ones as "G.G." for Great-grandma. Sadly on April 10th 2015 she passed away in her bed after a long life of 94 years. Even in her old age, she was a spitfire and was loved by many at the nursing home she lived in. She will always be known as a very strong and independent woman who can do just about anything if she puts her mind to it. I am blessed to call her grandma.