Ruth Malm Whitmore, of Beth Sholom Nursing Facility in Richmond, Va., died on May 6, 2023. Ruth was born February 9, 1918, and was 105 when she died.
Ruth was the daughter of Frank and Mathilda Martti Malm and had one sister, Miriam, all of whom preceded her in death.
She was born in the small town of Dollar Bay in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Ruth left home at the age of 16 to attend the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Ill., drawn by the prospect of acting in plays illustrating Bible stories. She made the trip to Chicago on her own, but soon learned she was too young to stay there alone. She returned to the Copper Country and attended Suomi College, studying music, arts and languages. Upon graduation, she moved to Detroit, Mich., where she attended the Detroit Conservatory of Music, studying music and dance.
She was a gifted pianist and vocalist and was employed as a singer in fashionable restaurants in Detroit. She loved fashion and jewelry and also did work as a model for an exclusive clothing store in Detroit.
Upon the death of her sister, Ruth returned home to Dollar Bay where she worked for a time at a clothing store in Houghton, Mich. It was there that she met the love of her life, Edward “Eddie” Whitmore, originally of Munising, Mich., who came into the store as a customer, and left having secured a first date with his future wife.
Eddie served in the U.S. Coast Guard. The newly married couple were stationed for a time in Eagle River, Mich., but then moved to posts all along the East Coast, with Norfolk, Va. as their final assignment.
Ruth continued to live in Norfolk after Eddie died until just the last few years of her life, when she moved to Richmond to live at the care home.
Ruth loved going to the beach, swimming and ice skating. She loved pets, especially cats. Once she and Eddie trained their pet hamsters to ride on their cat’s back, which Ruth said both the cat and the hamsters enjoyed, as they were great friends. She had a wide range of interests–the pyramids, Sibelius, stories about the lives of animals and classical music.
When she was over 100 years old, she requested a current map of the world. She closely followed the news and was always up-to-date on current events.
She was an exuberant storyteller and great conversationalist. Ruth was a member of the Christian Science church and had a strong faith. Her favorite hymns included Finlandia (“This is My Song”), “The Old Rugged Cross”, “He Walks with Me”, and “Be Still My Soul.” She also loved and sometimes quoted these favorite hymns by Mary Baker Eddy: “Communion Hymn” (Saw Ye, My Savior), and “Mother’s Evening Prayer” (O Gentle Presence). Her steadfast faith gave her strength, and she greatly appreciated visits from members of the Christian Science church who would read with her. She wondered what heaven would be like.
On earth she was grateful to her caregivers and was a gracious friend. Ruth was a blessing to her family and helped us learn about our family history.
She is survived by several cousins, with special mention of Eliisa (Pete) Waisanen of Idaho and John (Ramona) Backman of Michigan, who kept in conversation and correspondence with Ruth throughout the years.
The family would like to thank the caregivers at Beth Sholom, as well as Martha Donato for her kind attention to Ruth’s needs.
Ruth will be buried at the Forest Hill Cemetery in Houghton, Mich., in the family plot alongside her parents and sister.
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