Obituary from the MFPCA:
Ruth Lilian Parker, granddaughter of Alzada Helen McQuinn, was born in Paha, Washington in 1909, the daughter of Ruth and Rufus Parker. She died in Phoenix, Arizona on September 6, 2004, just two months shy of her 95th birthday. She was preceded in death by her husband, Rudy Schlank, (1946), second husband Rolie O’Neal, brothers Jerome (aged 2) and David, and a sister Virginia. She is survived by a brother, Rufus W. Parker, and a sister Jean McKeon, both of Tacoma, Washington; children, Gary O'Neal, Gold Hill, Oregon; Alan Schlank, Arlington, Virginia; Ruthie Bernaert, Honokaa, Hawaii; Rolin O’Neal, Phoenix, Arizona; nine grandchildren, six great grandchildren, and many, many nieces and nephews scattered throughout the country.
Ruth grew up in Tacoma, attended Grant grade school, Stadium High School (1927) and then graduated from Ellensberg Normal College. She taught school in various cities in Washington before returning to her studies and eventually graduating in music and philosophy from the College of Puget Sound. She then went to live in Tempe, Arizona, where she met and married Rudy Schlank on October 29, 1934, after a brief, eleven-day courtship. They had three children, Gary, Alan, and Ruthie. After a tragic automobile accident resulted in the death of Rudy in 1946, she was left a widow with three small children to care for. In 1948 she married Rolie O’Neal, and had one son from this marriage, Rolin Parker O’Neal.
Ruth lived in California for a number of years and then moved to Mexico, spending eleven years in San Miguel de Allende and three years in Oaxaca, before returning to the United States. The last months of her life were spent near her son Rolin in Phoenix.
Ruth was an accomplished classical pianist throughout her life as well as a successful writer. Her letters, poems, and her many e-mails, sent to one and all, were always treasured keepsakes for their beautiful wording, wit, and subject matter. One of her brief classics, sent to her children from Mexico, was “I’m on line, at age 89”!
Two comments from friends upon hearing of her death are worthy of note: “Your mother, an American beauty, lives on in the hearts of those privileged to know her. Ruth inspired us all with her many talents. I think of her as adventurer, gardener, musician, and friend. Above all, she was a ‘lady’, and remains on that rarified pedestal.” And, “One of the things that I cherished about Ruth was her candor, her frank way of answering when I was asking for an opinion. I love people who say what they mean and mean what they say…we enjoyed Ruth’s quick wit, her breadth of interests and her literary side. My husband is a scholar, reading in-depth on many subjects and loved having conversations with Ruth. We also enjoyed her music. One of my fond memories is of an evening when I happened outside for some reason and heard Ruth playing her piano. I quietly slipped into her patio and settled down on a recliner and enjoyed her playing for about an hour. It was a delicious clear cool night, and the music was beautiful—what a wonderful memory”.
Ruth was totally in control of her life until it ended. The day before she died she instructed her nurse to turn off the oxygen, which was helping her breathe. As her son Rolin who was with her to the end said, “To the very end she was as delightful as ever; proud, poised, and refined.” Her ashes were scattered in the desert she loved, near Phoenix.