Ruth Louise Meisenhelder Howland (Meisy) passed away at the age of 95. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 2:00, at the First Presbyterian Church, 114 SW Eighth St. in Corvallis, Oregon. A reception will follow in the Dennis Hall of the First Presbyterian Church.
Ruth, born in 1918, grew up with siblings Edmund and Samuel, and, until her early death, Helen in York, Pennsylvania. Their father, Edmund W. Meisenhelder, owned and operated a private hospital, where he carried on his surgical practice. Ruth's mother, Frances Faust Meisenhelder, was a former nurse who was very active both in her family and community. Ruth did well in school - but not so well she didn't have time for fun. When she graduated from Walnut Hill School and Radcliffe College she remained lifelong friends with those who knew her well. In Boston she also met a MIT graduate student, James Chase Howland of Oregon City, Oregon. She and Jim married in 1941. With a nod to family medical tradition, Ruth earned a license as an X-ray technician and worked in that field during World War II while her husband was with the U.S. Army in the Pacific theater. The war over, Meisy and Jim moved to Corvallis, Oregon. There she found ever-expanding ways to share her gifts and caring within family and community.
Meisy discovered her calling as a wife and as a mother, first to her children, then to the children of others, and finally to her community. Like her own mother, she delighted in children, gardening, reading, and welcoming family, friends, and international visitors to her home. She and Jim hosted AFS students and young relatives while their parents were abroad. Her growing family led her to volunteer roles. She not only led Girl Scouts and Cub Scout dens for her children, but also started a troop for girls living in the Farm Home. Ruth's work to help scouting in the Willamette Valley, her service on various committees in the Corvallis area, and her role as secretary of the Alpha Phi sorority alumnae were recognized with a 1967 Women of Achievement award. Her twenty years of service to the Girl Scouts were recognized by the Santiam Council, and she later earned "the coveted" Twenty Four Carrot Volunteer Award from the Old Mill School.
Always unassuming, Meisy didn't work for recognition. She enjoyed teaching children's and adult Sunday School classes, and used her considerable skill in listening as a peer counselor within the Stephen Ministers program, both at the Good Samaritan Episcopal Church. In her later years she was one of the volunteers who initiated and maintained momentum on the Madison Avenue Task Force. She served in various offices for the Benton County Historical Society and wrote historical plaques for the Waterfront Project. Whatever she did, in public or private, Ruth Howland brought to the task her extensive intellectual ability, her huge heart, her generosity, and her acceptance of people, no matter what their class, race or circumstances. She was, and her legacy remains, a treasure.
Ruth was preceded in death by husband James Chase Howland, her parents, Edmund W. and Frances (Faust) Meisenhelder, her sister, Helen Meisenhelder, and brothers Edmund W. Meisenhelder, III and Samuel Meisenhelder. She is survived by her four children, Joyce Howland of Washington, DC; Eric Howland (Julianna Shaull) of Madison, WI; Mark Howland of Somerville, MA and Peter Howland of McMinnville, OR; five grandsons, Benjamin Fernandes (Becky) of Springfield VA: Von Fernandes (Camille McCarthy) of Washington, DC; Corin Buchanan-Howland (Katie) of Jamaica Plain, MA, Thomas Howland of Castine, ME; and Edmund Howland of New Orleans, LA; and two great-grandchildren, Sophia and James Fernandes.
The family suggests remembrances be made to the Old Mill Center for Children and Families, 1650 SW 45th St., Corvallis, OR 97333; oldmillcenter.org or the First Presbyterian Church of Corvallis, 114 SW Eighth Street, Corvallis, OR 97333 www.1stpres.org. Funeral services were provided by Informed Choice, in Madison WI.