The world was changed forever when Ruth Esther was born Aug. 18, 1922. The eldest child of John Lyman and Esther Pauline Olsen Holladay, she was the only girl and the only grandchild that her grandpa, Dr. Charles Ludvig Olsen, would deliver before his passing seven months later. Ruth was born in Salt Lake City where she lived with her growing family, typical of the times.
The family moved to Idaho for a time and Ruth graduated from Kuna High in tiny Kuna, Idaho. She returned to Salt Lake and lived with her beloved grandma Pauline Heinz Olsen, biding her time until she could join the Navy. Her parents, having two boys already in WWII, refused to sign a permission slip for Ruth to join, so on her 21st birthday, she marched into the recruiting office and signed up herself. The world was her oyster at that point and she was determined to enjoy every available moment.
Ruth often told others that she made up her mind when she was young, that she could choose to be happy or choose to be miserable. Fortunately for the world, she chose to be happy. She was stationed in Washington, D.C. as a Wave and later at Patuxent River Naval Station where she was the only female chief on the entire base. She had lots of fun in the Navy, as a lovely young woman who the young pilots wanted to impress. Because of this, she went on many ‘test flights’ in planes not certified for service yet. During this time, she took advantage of being close to New York City and made a point of attending as many Broadway shows as she could. Ruth loved movies and everything having to do with live or filmed entertainment. She was a veritable encyclopedia of who starred in what and when. And the movie subject wouldn’t be complete without mentioning her two heroes: John Wayne and Ronald Reagan.
Ruth met her husband at Patuxent River and they soon married. She became stepmom to the daughters of Joseph Clark Brinkerhoff Waters, Michelle and Merry Jo. Their first baby was born in Connecticut, Janelle Diane. She was followed by JoEllin Lorraine and Julianne Patrice, all born one year apart. Mom had pretty much decided to not have kids until she met Joe Waters, our daddy.
Ruth and Joe moved to Arizona in 1994 where they lived until Joe passed away in 1999. At that point, Ruth moved to Moab, encouraged by Julianne so she would be near family. She lived happily in Moab for 15 years and worked at City Market until the age of 90. She made many friends in Moab and they were sad to see her move to Salt Lake four years ago so Julianne could watch over her.
Many loved Ruth and it was because she was such a loving person. She loved her sisters-in-law as dearly beloved sisters. Her nieces and nephews all loved her very much and she would like it if they were mentioned here: Don and Doone Holladay’s children: Lecia, Lynn, Keith, Susan; Paula Dick Holladay’s children: Robby (deceased), Pam, Lisa (deceased), Scott, Jody (deceased), Nicole, Brent; Shirley Holladay’s children: Danny, Tanya (deceased), Robin, Bob, Jill; Logan Lee and Nettie Holladay’s children: Arenda, Nora and David.
Ruth lived a long and happy life. We promised her that her legacy will live on through her grandkids and we’ll make sure it does.
A memorial will be held Sunday, April 8 at 4:30 p.m. at Friendship Manor, Room A, 1320 East 500 South in Salt Lake City.