Ruth Van Gorden's story, as I remember it.
Ruth was born June the 8th 1930 in Denver, Colorado. She always said "wasn't I just the best gift! another mouth to feed just as the Great Depression was getting really rolling." I think she was greatly loved, born to Robert and Ruth Murray, the last of 5 children, two girls and three boys.
Ruth had deep roots in Colorado, her grandmother was the first postmistress in Colorado, and her grandfather was a police chief in Denver. Her father's family emigrated from Scotland to Canada in the late 1880's, stopping briefly in Albany NY for my grandfather to be born. He left home at 12 years of age because his father wanted him to attend a 7th day Adventist school and he flatly refused. He went to New York City and became a chef, and later an automobile racer. That would account for the lead foot gene that has passed to me.
The family lost everything in the Depression and moved to a property outside Central City and did gold mining for a time. I think these times are what was most vivid for my mother, life on the mountain with the animals and interesting people and her family. My grandmother's family were true pioneers, there was even some discussion that there was a covered wagon there in the past somewhere. And so my grandmother was equipped to care for her family in a very inventive and powerful way, utilizing what was available to her.
I actually remember visiting this property as a very young child, it was very beautiful and had a pristine spring that had the most wonderful water.
The family survived the Depression and the 2nd world war, sending two of the three boys to this conflict. The third son, Bobby was lost in a drowning accident when he was 9. Glenn and Don came back, war scarred, but physically whole. Don came back with what was called shell shock then, could never reintegrate into his family, and disappeared into the Alaskan outback, eventually becoming a bush pilot.
The eldest child, my aunt Maxine was a matriarchal figure for the family as my grandmother passed when my mother was, I believe, just 17. Ruth attended West High School and showed a talent for singing from a young age. She studied voice for many years, and actually met my father George when they studied at the same voice studio in Denver, operated by a woman named Madame Brola. It really was love at first sight, they were just crazy about each other from the very beginning, and sang successfully together for many decades. They both sang roles with the Central City Opera, The Denver Civic Opera, the old Elitches theater and many other venues. My mother and father both auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera, and though they were not selected it certainly was a pinnacle for their careers and a great honor.
They also sang for many years at a restaurant in downtown Denver called Mario's of Aspen which was a focal point for celebrities and singers. The food was good too! I personally remember meeting Luciano Pavarotti and Sammy Davis Junior there, among others. I heard that John Wayne came in one night and I missed that, darn it.
They also moved, with me, to California to sing at various venues in the San Francisco area. We lived with my grandparents in Santa Cruz for a year, a time that hold vivid memories for me.
My parents also sang for many many years as soloists at the 1st, 4th and 5th Christian Science churches in Denver. I followed their footsteps in this and received a priceless grounding in metaphysics in this way.
My mother and father were big, mostly happy, flamboyant personalities, and I was most blessed by being raised by them.
It was a fascinating, rich and colorful childhood for which I am deeply thankful.
Her later years were comprised of caring for her house, her dogs and my Dad until he passed. She was a devout student of Dr. Holmes and other great metaphysical writers and speakers. My mother was very funny, brave, tough. Often pretty ornery frankly. She loved trees, big clouds, wild weather and great singing. She loved her dogs so, so much. And of course she loved all of us.
She is survived by a lot of people who will remember evey day; myself her only daugher, her granddaughter Arlie Casebeer who most graciously took over her affairs of caretaking in her last years and whom she loved dearly, Arlie's partner, Kenny Boss Jr. who loved her deeply, two great-granddaughters Ryleigh and Kamryn that she delighted in, though she was given to hollering "stop that!" especially when one or the other was hanging upside down in a tree or doing handsprings. Also, Mary Ann and Greg Bonetti and Jonny Althaber who became family, friends, and great compainions and she cherished all of them.
She also great loved my husband, John, who was always most tender with her. Her great friend and singing buddy Donna Bricker Janzen, who lives in Las Vegas, will miss her very much. They were friends for at least 7 decades.
Her daughter, Kristin