Obituary for Ruth Harriet Douglass (Burns)
Ruth Harriet Burns Douglass died peacefully on May 9, 2017 in Appleton, Wisconsin. She was born in Two Harbors, Minnesota on May 30, 1919, the eldest daughter of Dr. Rush Leslie and Ruth Garnich Burns. Following high school graduation Ruth pursued her study of music with concentration in piano and organ. Ruth was a dedicated musician and she used her musical talent all her life, well into her 90s, as accompanist for various choral groups and church services. She became known as “the piano lady” at the Heritage, the retirement home where she lived the last years of her life.
In 1937 Ruth was married to Edward Fenner Douglass, Jr. They made their home in California before and during the Second World War. They are the parents of five children. Following the war in 1946 the family moved to Appleton, Wisconsin where Ed was Chief Engineer at the Appleton Wire Works and Ruth became active in the community. As a member of the First Congregational Church (now the United Church of Christ) Ruth taught in the church school and sang in the choir. Beyond the local church she served on state and national boards including the Board for World Ministries and the Executive Committee of the United Church of Christ. Ruth also served on the Board of Trustees of Lakeland College. She was a member of the Benefit Circle of Kings Daughters, the Fine Arts Club and a volunteer at the Community Blood Center. She was a member of Chapter B of the PEO Sisterhood since 1950. Ruth and Ed spent many summers sailing the Great Lakes with their family.
Following her husband’s retirement they accepted assignment with International Executive Service Corps which took them to Hong Kong for several years. While there Ruth volunteered in grade schools and at a Children’s Hospital. In 1972 they moved to the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay and made their home in Oxford, Maryland where they enjoyed cruising on their sailboat. After Ed’s passing in 1998 Ruth moved back to Appleton to live at The Heritage.
Ruth was preceded in death by her husband Ed and son, Allan Bruce Douglass, grandson, David Douglass, one sister, Betsy Washburn, and brother-in-law, Ken Roose. She is survived by sister Gretchen Roose of Oberlin, OH; brother David Burns of Northridge, CA; and sons Edward Fenner Douglass III (and wife Adele) of Sturgeon Bay, WI; Robert Burns Douglass (and wife Judie) of McKinney, TX; Richard Carlton Douglass (and wife Holly) of Vancouver, WA; and daughter Jean Douglass Geenlee (and husband Robert) of Trappe, MD; eleven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14th at Peabody Hall, The Heritage, 2600 S. Heritage Woods Dr., Appleton.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Camp Manito-wish YMCA (PO Box 246, Boulder Junction, WI 54512); The United Church of Christ, 724 E. South River St, Appleton, WI 54915, or another organization of your choice.