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Ruth Rodine Vaage

August 8, 1928 ~ December 15, 2017 (age 89)

After a long life filled with laughter and faithfulness, Ruth Rodine Vaage passed away on December 15, 2017, in Walker, Minnesota.

Ruth was born on August 8, 1928, to John and Laura Seleen in Colorado Springs, CO.  After living for a time in Wyoming, the family returned to their roots in 1935 and settled in Lakefield, MN.  There they owned and operated the bakery and Seleen Variety.  Ruth spent many hours working in the bakery and caring for her younger sisters, Vivian, Judy and Sharon.  When her father purchased a bakery in Emmetsburg, Iowa, Ruth stayed in Lakefield for her senior year and was elected homecoming queen.

Ruth enrolled at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, graduating in 1950 with a degree in sociology.  While at St. Olaf, her friends set her up on a blind date with Joe Vaage, the man with whom she would share the next 65 years.  They were married on November 11, 1951, in Emmetsburg.

Ruth and Joe began their life together in Brooklyn Park, MN.  Daughter Karon was born in 1953, followed by son Joe III in 1954.  They moved to Denison, IA, where the family continued to grow with the additions of Christine (1956), Jean (1958), John (1961) and Sharon (1963).  Denison was home for over 30 years, with Ruth and Joe raising their kids alongside the families of many cherished friends.

After all of her children were of school age, Ruth returned to work as a child protection case worker for Crawford County.  Gregarious by nature, Ruth cultivated an active social life, hosting bridge club, dancing at the country club, and having birthday celebrations that sometimes lasted a week.

Ruth gave a lifetime of service to Lutheran churches and causes.  She was devoted to her bible study groups while also serving as a Sunday school teacher and youth leader.  The power of her faith helped to make sure that her family was in the pew on Sunday mornings, regardless of circumstances.

In 1988, Ruth and Joe retired to a home on Leech Lake in Minnesota.   They were blessed with 28 years on the lake, hosting friends and family, enjoying summer life in Walker and winters in Arizona.

Ruth is reunited in the peace of the Lord with her husband Joe (2016), sister Vivian (2010), brother-in-law Jorgen (2010) and his wife Joan (1986), and brother-in-law Steve Swanson (2015).

Ruth is survived by her sisters Judy Swanson and Sharon Prescher, and by her children and their families:  Karon McDonough (Kevin) of Bismarck, ND; Joe III of Casa Grande, AZ; Christine Vaage (Matt Powell) of Twin Falls, ID; Jean O’Donnell (Mike) of Lenexa, KS; John (Becky) of Orofino, ID; and Sharon Carlson (Dale) of Onalaska, WI; as well as 15 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.

A celebration of Ruth’s life will be held July 7th in Walker.  As a memorial, she would encourage you to support your church of choice with gifts of time and treasure.    

Ruth will be fondly remembered for her beautiful smile and joyful times spent with family and friends.  Rest in peace, Ruthie, you are well loved.

Ruth’s care has been entrusted to Northern Peace Funeral Home of Walker, MN.  Online condolences for the family may be given at

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