Cover photo for Ruth Alma (Obert) Kolwitz's Obituary
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Ruth Alma (Obert) Kolwitz

August 20, 1927 — November 19, 2020

Ruth Alma (Obert) Kolwitz passed away on November 19,2020 at Sunset House from heart failure; she died at peace surrounded by her five daughters. She was 93.

Born on August 20, 1927 in Mercy Hospital in Toledo, she was the third child (of five) of Karl, a professor and later a truck driver, and Gertrude, a onetime Vaudeville acrobat. Ruth mainly grew up in east Toledo during the Great Depression next to the family business of Obert Cartage and Moving. She attended Sacred Heart School and graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1945.

While at Central, her father passed away as WW II broke out. She was able to finish high school and was accepted at Mercy School of Nursing as an Army Nurse Corps Cadet. When she graduated from Mercy in 1948, the war had ended and Ruth began her nursing career at Mercy Hospital.
While a student nurse she was introduced to James Kolwitz on a blind date. They married in the summer of 1948. Over the next eight years, they had five daughters and life was never quite the same. Ruth worked part-time at Mercy Hospital while raising the girls. All the girls were in Girl Scouts and she volunteered as the cookie chairman for many years. The house was full of hundreds of boxes of Girl Scout cookies…and they all got distributed. Ruth and the girls took many camping adventures…exploring Michigan, Wisconsin, Boston, and Florida. One summer the whole gang went out west with a pop-up tent camper. Fun, fun, fun. Ruth worked hard and succeeded at all she did for family.

Ruth had a 40-year career at Mercy Hospital working in the nursery and many years as the 11 pm to 7 am hospital supervisor. Then switching to days, Ruth ran the Emergency Department and eventually became head of the trauma center and all outpatient services at Mercy. She was instrumental in starting up 911 operations for Lucas County…she loved her role in advancing first responder care for our communities. In 1976, Mercy Emergency Department held a special appreciation day for Ruth. Her nurses, law enforcement, physicians, and paramedic squads all participated to thank her for all those efforts to upgrade the community care.

Ruth studied part-time at Mary Manse College and subsequently transferred those credits to the University of Toledo. It was long haul working full-time and going to the University in the evening. Ruth kept at it and received her bachelor’s degree in 1980.

In retirement, Ruth loved to travel taking many Elder Hostel trips with her sister Jeanne and sister-in-law Helen. Ruth also supported many of her five daughters’ bike tours by driving the SAG vehicle, setting up camp, and providing medical care when needed.

Ruth was a member and served as an officer of the Mercy Hospital Guild later known as Mercy College Auxiliary. She volunteered at the Gift Shop and liked getting to know the students at the College. In addition, she was on the Mercy’s College Foundation Board. Ruth really enjoyed her work with the Auxiliary and the Foundation Board. She always said Mercy was part of her family.

Her grandchildren meant the world to Ruth. She loved being a grandmother…Nana Ruth. She always said “I can spoil the heck out of these wonderful kids…let’s just have some fun.” Michael, Becky, Matt, Christy, Darci, Erin, Ben and Andy will miss her.

In her 80s, Ruth remained active, taking care of her grandkids, planning trips to see her kids wherever they were, and hosting Christmas Eve for her family. In her 90s, she still worked the Toledo Blade crossword puzzle every day. Her final days were spent surrounded by family and still enjoying any ice cream for dessert while watching Jeopardy.

Ruth belonged to Sacred Heart Parish for many years and was blessed to be a lay eucharistic minister. Later she belonged to St. Joseph’s Parish in Maumee where she will have her life celebration Mass.

Ruth is survived by her daughters. Kathleen Lewis (Dennis) of Lambertville, MI; Lt. Col (retired) Susan Kolwitz of Puyallup, WA; Dr. Ann Kolwitz of Issaquah WA; Barbara Hammons (James) of Tampa, FL, and Mary Jo Clark of Jerome, MI. She is also survived by 8 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her parents and brothers Richard and Karl Obert, and sisters Margie Newell, Jeanne McMahon Miller and beloved son-in-law Gary R. Hoyt.

The family would like to thank the staff at Sunset House and Ashanti Hospice for their compassion and professionalism throughout her final days. Any remembrances can be sent to the Ruth Obert Kolwitz Scholarship at Mercy College. The scholarship was started 15 years ago by Ruth’s daughters and provides scholarships for nursing students.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ruth Alma (Obert) Kolwitz, please visit our flower store.


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