Ruth Nedelmann | Passages

Ruth Nedelmann passed away peacefully at her beloved Orcas home on May 31, 2023. She was surrounded by family and the warm thoughts of many who loved her.

Ruth was born in the small town of Ahle, Germany on December 24, 1933. Ruth is pre-deceased by her loving husband Rolf, her parents Heinrich and Elfriede Brune, and her three younger siblings Ursula, Bärbel and Peter.

Ruth had a wonderful early childhood growing up in bucolic North Rhein-Westphalia. She excelled in school and spent long afternoons acting out Grimm’s fairy tales with neighborhood kids and picking cherries from the family’s many cherry trees. She loved playing piano with her mother, deep discussions with her father, and riding on the handlebars of his bike. Most nights Ruth would secretly read books under her bed covers by candlelight (she claimed the covers never once caught fire), and she continued to read voraciously her entire life.

WWII brought big changes and many scary moments including hiding in bunkers and ditches during bombing raids. The family business was lost, and a restaurant was opened in the family home at the end of the War. There were good memories of long bike rides with friends all over Germany, yet overall times were tough, and there were few university spots for young women.

Ruth moved to America in her early twenties where she had heard the possibilities were infinite. She arrived in New York City in 1956 and began to work as an interpreter and translator. She also worked at a medical clinic which inspired her to study psychology. She loved NYC’s tall buildings, the Arts, and the museums. Ruth also met many fascinating people including the love of her life Rolf. They had much in common, spent most weekends on Fire Island, and Ruth even learned to drive Rolf’s stick shift VW Beetle. They were married in 1962.

Rolf and Ruth moved from NYC to London, England in 1964 where sons Christopher and Marcus were born. The family lived briefly in Düsseldorf, Germany before moving to Houston, Texas in 1972. Rolf & Ruth discovered Orcas Island in the late 80’s and eventually retired to the island full time in 2001.

Professionally, Ruth earned her master’s degree in clinical social work once her boys were a little older. She enjoyed a successful psychotherapy practice in Houston for over 18 years. Exceptionally talented and caring, Ruth made a positive impact on many lives and said her work filled her with meaning and enjoyment.

Ruth loved her family and being in nature. She treasured vacations to beautiful Germany and other parts of Europe. She adored camping trips to the Western States. Other vacations and many weekends were spent sailing. Lake Travis outside Austin and Galveston Bay were favorites, and longer trips were taken in the Caribbean and the San Juans. Ruth provided calm and perspective during some of the family’s more dramatic sailing adventures which are now treasured family memories.

Ruth brightened every room she walked into. She was exceptionally kind, very insightful, and always looked for the positive. Ruth was a deep soul who acted thoughtfully and with conviction. Ruth also had a wonderful sense of humor and was prone to bouts of unstoppable laughter. She loved to hike on Orcas with friends, especially her favorite paths around Mountain Lake.

Ruth was a gentle, loving and caring wife, mother, mother-in-law (Katie), and Oma (Sidney and Natalie). She was a dear friend to many and will be deeply missed. A small family gathering to celebrate her life is planned after which her ashes will be spread in the waters around Orcas where she will be reunited with Rolf. Ruth will always be surrounded by a River of Light.

Ruth felt a strong connection to the work of the Orcas Senior Center and was a lifelong lover of classical music. In lieu of flowers, she would have appreciated a contribution to the Orcas Senior Center OR the Orcas Island Community Foundation – Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival OICMF Music Education Endowment Fund