Ruth Elaine (Zabel) Schmidt was born October 5, 1927, in Fairbury, NE, to Lloyd and Winifred (Cox) Zabel.  She died October 21, 2023, at the age of 96. Ruth attended District 82 in Jefferson County for eight years and then entered Fairbury High School, where she was a twirler in the high school band and a member of the National Honor Society. She graduated in 1944. Ruth was employed in the high school principal’s office for two years after her graduation.  

Ruth married the love of her life, Earl, on March 10, 1946, and they were given 68 years together. They lived and farmed on Earl’s birthplace until November 2008, when they moved to a Fairbury apartment. They were blessed with five children: Connie Carol (who tragically died in an accident at 8 years), Eugene, Larry, Douglas, and Roger. The farm brought many hours of hard work for all, but they found time to do special things: family trips to other states, school and graduation activities, Ruth and Earl went with local tours to both Hawaii and Alaska.  Earl, Ruth, and Roger learned to square dance and were members and officers in the Endicott Club. They even enjoyed a 40th anniversary dance in 1986.

As a child she attended the Bower Christian Church until it closed in the early forties. She was baptized and became a member of the Helvey United Brethren Church in 1943, and remained a member until 1986, when it closed as the Helvey United Methodist Church. In 1987 Earl, and Ruth and Roger transferred to the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Fairbury. She served in the last two churches as president, treasurer, secretary of women’s groups, Sunday School teacher, deaconess, pianist, and organist. She loved music and felt it was a privilege to provide music for over 80 years.

Gardening and raising flowers were joyful work for Ruth, especially the many rows for gladioli, which provided church bouquets for many summers. Garden produce, chickens and eggs helped to feed her growing family. She raised June bearing and ever bearing strawberries which were always a favorite. Making homemade ice cream to go along with those strawberries was always a treat.

Beginning in 1977, Ruth worked part-time for 18 years as clerk and bookkeeper at Korbel Drug Store in Fairbury. This required learning to do books and statements on the computer.

Family filled their lives with so much joy and pride. Watching three generations grow and mature was a special gift.

Surviving are four sons: Eugene (Rose) of Littleton, CO; Larry (Nancy) of Fairbury, NE; Douglas of Lawton, OK; Roger (Brigitte) of Middlebury, VT; Seven grandchildren: Brian (Brigitte) of Lincoln, NE; Rev. Michael Schmidt of Nebraska City, NE; Cassie Musil (Scott) of Central City, NE; Lori Cox (Wayne) of Centennial, CO; David Schmidt of Littleton, CO: Richard Schmidt (Michel) of Lawton, OK; Jennifer Schmidt (Evan Wallace) of Lawton, OK. Seven great-grandchildren: Sarah, Thomas and Lukas Musil of Central City, NE; Ricky and Robert Schmidt of Lawton, OK; Katelynn Wallace of Lawton, OK; and Cayden Schmidt of Lincoln, NE. She is also survived by three nephews and four nieces.

Preceding her in death were her daughter, Constance Carol, parents, husband Earl in 2014, sister Dorothy Christie, brother Harold Zabel, sisters-in-law Leola Schmidt, Ethel Austin, Edith Witt, Ruby Zabel, and brothers-in-law John Christie, Osa Witt, Harley Austin, one nephew and two nieces.

Services will be Saturday, October 28, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. at the First Christian Church in Fairbury. The family will greet friends Friday evening at the funeral home from 6 – 8. Gerdes-Meyer Funeral Home is assisting with arrangements.