Monday, March 10, 2008


RUTH STEEL WILSON, beloved wife, mother and grandmother passed away on March 10, 2008. She lived a great life for 88 years and leaves this world a better place.

Born Ruth Lorraine Steel in Bozeman, Montana to David A. and Kathleen Steel on December 12, 1919. Ruth was a woman of talent, beauty and brains. As a girl growing up in Chicago she had her own sailboat and taught sailing in Jackson Park Harbor. At the University of Chicago she excelled, participating in leadership activities and leading a Great Books discussion group.

After graduating from college, Ruth learned to fly and trained to be a WASP (*Women Airforce Service Pilots) in Sweetwater, Texas. *After graduation, she was stationed at Minter Field in Bakersfield, California, where she met *Army Air Force pilot James Sharp Wilson III, her husband of 63 years.

As a mother, Ruth was given the extraordinary challenge of raising five children including one with special needs. She not only accepted and met the challenge, but worked tirelessly for over 50 years with the Lake County Association for the Retarded (currently known as Arc BRIDGES) helping improve the quality of life for mentally handicapped children and adults and their families.

Throughout her busy life as a parent she somehow found time to pursue her own interests in sewing and writing (she penned a weekly column for the Gary Post-Tribune for several years). She loved sailing the family Snipe on Lake Michigan and countless north woods lakes of Wisconsin and Michigan. Canoeing, cross country skiing and taking photographs were also passions of hers.

As the family chronologist, she created photo albums telling the story of many years of activities and adventures including numerous trips in the family airplane.

When her children were grown and moved away, she wanted to learn more about the financial world so she spent several years working for a tax firm, an insurance company and a real estate brokerage. She also enjoyed investing in stocks, bonds and real estate. She loved to travel in the Midwest and found great pleasure and satisfaction in everyday life.

Miller Beach and the Dunes were home. The gardens, birds and landscapes, the seasons and the people were dear to her heart.

Ruth was preceded in death by her parents and her sister Ann Anderson. She leaves behind her husband, local watercolor artist Jim Wilson; her children Tracy (and her husband Andy Nelson) of La Jolla, California; Jim (and his wife Janice) of Plainwell, Michigan; Chuck (and his wife Becky) of Newport, Rhode Island; Scott Wilson of Merrillville, Indiana and Kim (and his wife Jan) of Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin. She also leaves seven grandchildren Drew, Tim and Gray Nelson, Jayne, Jimmy, Sally and Maggie Wilson. Ruth will be deeply missed.

A Memorial Service will be held at 12:00 noon on Saturday, March 15, 2008 at the Marquette Park United Methodist Church, 215 N. Grand Boulevard in Miller.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Arc BRIDGES, 2650 W. 35th Ave., Gary, IN 46408, phone number (219) 985-6562. Burns Funeral Home, Hobart in charge of arrangements.

Published in the Post-Tribune from 3/12/2008 - 3/14/2008.

(*edited for accuracy by np)