Ruth M, Wenger


(Feb. 7, 2005)

Ruth M. Wenger, 97, of Owatonna, Minn., died Monday Feb. at Cedarview Care Center.

She was born July 29, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa, the daughter of Lloyd and Ada (Easter) McCorkle. She attended Maple Grove country school in Madison County, Iowa as a child and graduated from high school in De Soto, Iowa in 1924. She entered Iowa State Teachers College (University of Northern Iowa) at Cedar Falls, earning a two-year teaching certificate. Needing more money for college expenses, she taught for two years at Kelly, Iowa, and returned to Cedar Falls in 1929. She completed her music education degree in 1931 by correspondence and summer school while teaching full time at Bedford, Iowa.

She met Harry Wenger playing cornet duets in a summer school ensemble class, and they were married Aug. 27, 1932. They taught music in Le Mars, Iowa until 1936 when they moved to Owatonna where Harry had accepted the job as music director of the Owatonna Public Schools. She continued to assist with private instrumental lessons as needed. They were forever grateful that they were able to find jobs during the depression and dust bowl years. Ruth taught band for three years in Claremont, Minn., and from 1946 to 1954 she taught all levels of music at Medford, Minn.

Ruth began doing Christmas parties for Wenger Company employees and their families in 1953 in their home, cooking the dinner and buying gifts for everyone. As the company grew and the parties moved to larger quarters she continued to plan the menus and personally picked the gifts for all the children, often with the help of her own grandchildren. Ruth enjoyed writing, publishing a book "My Dear Grandchildren "in 1982, a cookbook "Cooking At Grandma's House "in 1989, a collection of her newspaper columns for the Owatonna People's Press, "Reflections By Ruth" in 2001, and "Tales Of A Long Ago Childhood" for her great grandchildren in 2003.

She was an active member of United Methodist Women, serving several years as president of Southeast Minnesota Women's Society Of Christian Service. She was a member of 19th Century Club and a charter member of the Woman's Club of Owaotnna and the Owatonna Arts Center. In 1999 she was honored to be named Owatonna's "Woman Of The Century" by Business and Professional Women Of Owatonna.

Ruth wrote in her book, "My home is my castle, and I am happy there cooking, tending my flower garden, or stretched out in the afternoon reading books, books, and more books." She attributed her long life to faith, hope, love and a two-mile walk every morning. Her family will cherish the memory of her adventurous spirit.

She is survived by her daughter, Nancy (Dr. Roger) Benjamin of Owatonna; her son Jerry (Sonja) Wenger of Powell; eight grandchildren, Brent Benjamin of St. Louis, Mo, Brian Benjamin of Eagan, Ann Benjamin of Eagan, Todd Benjamin of Saratoga, Calif, Jeff (Ann Hobbie) Benjamin of St. Paul, Kari Wenger of Ely, Kirsten (Ronald) Johnson of Stillwater and Wendy Wenger of Wayzata; six great-grandchildren, Henry and William Benjamin of St. Paul and Hanna, Inga, Ada and Lars Johnson of Stillwater; and one brother, Paul McCorkle of Sac City, Iowa.

She was preceded in death by her husband Harry; her parents, Lloyd and Ada McCorkle; and one brother, Hugh McCorkle. Visitation will be held at Michaelson Funeral Home on Friday from 3-7 p.m. and on Saturday at United Methodist Church from 12-1 p.m. Funeral services will be held Saturday, Feb. 12 at 1 p.m. at United Methodist Church in Owatonna. The Reverend Pat Hinker will be officiating.

For those who wish, the family would appreciate memorials to the Owatonna Public Library, the Owatonna High School Museum Project or the United Methodist Church Choir.