Ruth Ann Ballenger, “Ruthie B,” passed away on Nov. 27, 2020 from complications of pneumonia at McKenzie Willamette Medical Center. She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Jim, her two children Maryann and Tony, and her brother Dan Martin of Tenakee Springs, Alaska.
Ruth was born in Herman, Neb. in 1942 to Rick and Electa Martin. She grew up with 3 sisters, Judy, Phyllis and Jean, and two brothers, Bob and Dan. It was only a short distance from Broken Bow, Neb., where her husband Jim was born. Both families moved to the Lowell area of Oregon where their families settled to find work. They met at Lowell High School and were married upon graduation.
She had a full life with many pursuits and was active with the youth groups at Trinity Baptist Church in Springfield. She founded and managed the teen volunteer program at McKenzie Willamette Hospital and also founded Ruthie B’s Antiques in the early 1990s. Ruthie B’s moved from its original location off High Banks Road to a historic old house by the river and started a tea room. Eventually the area was cleared for development, the old house moved, and Ruthie moved her operation into what is now Plank Town Brewing Co.
Many townspeople, as well as folks from far away, passed through Ruthie B’s for tea and to browse antiques. She started this endeavor prior to the renewal of downtown Springfield that we see today. There were many challenges, along with much joy and lifelong friendships forged over her life.
For the last several years she maintained a section at Vintage Industry in Springfield, where her collectible treasures will remain on sale until the inventory is exhausted.