Ruth Elizabeth (Walker) Foltz
Ruth Elizabeth Walker Foltz, 89, of Mechanicsburg passed away Monday, April 29, 2019 at home surrounded by her loving children and other family. Ruth began her simple yet extraordinary life as a sweet, shy “little farm girl,” born in 1930 to Henrietta Bardell (Hettie) and Neff Walker, Sr. She was always vibrant and happy, meeting setbacks head on.
Living with gratitude, tolerance, and compassion, she was ever mindful of her Mom and Pop’s example. She spoke so often of them and of her hard yet joyful childhood in the Sample Bridge Rd. stone farmhouse with big bank barn and fun in its hay mow and grain bin. There were cows and goats to milk, pigs and poultry to tend, fields to work and roam, on nearly 150 acres.
The hardship of all four beloved older brothers going off to WWII left her, at 12, as sole, primary helper to Pop outside (while Anna Mae, older, did baking/inside tasks helping Mom with littler kids, or worked away). Two horses, Charlie and Belle, and Ruthie’s devoted companion, herding dog Lindy, helped her. Even surviving a devastating barn fire, rescuing creatures she loved, she never wavered in her enthusiasm and gratitude for her childhood: on the farm itself; at Harrisburg’s Farmers’ Market Houses; on Pop’s Wertzville Road delivery route; in Simmons one-room schoolhouse; and at their church, Young’s EUB.
After the War, she met a handsome, young Marine at the Willow Mill Park Roller Rink where she worked. He offered to “help put on her skates” and soon Frank W. Foltz became her sweetheart, husband, and eventually, father of their four children. The young couple first built a cottage in Summerdale, later residing in the Poconos for a time. Resilient and thriving, though missing her family, especially her Mom, she happily returned to Central Pa.
In addition to her parents, she was pre-deceased by Frank, to whom she was married for many years and by older brothers Neff Jr., John, Harper, and George Walker and sister, Anna Mae (Thorpe) Besser. Surviving siblings are sister, Edith (Sgrignoli) Shelley (Gene) of Mechanicsburg and brother, Richard Walker of Phoenix and also, a sister-in-law, Ethel Luther of Dover. She is also survived by her four deeply grateful “kids,” their partners, and families. They are her daughter Sharon Foltz Goldhawk (Greg) of Canada, and her “only boy and buddy,” son William A. Foltz and daughters Cindy Foltz Smolinski (Joseph) and Carolyn Foltz Potts (Bill Myers), all of Mechanicsburg. Her dearly beloved and so valued grandchildren include: grandson, Joseph Franklin Smolinski and granddaughters, Valerie Longwell, Megan Johnson, and Sydney Goldhawk and four great-grandchildren: Mollie, Nevaeh, Sawyer, and T.J. She had many nieces and nephews, with Marty Wagner notable for care provided often last year.
Ruth, a natural beauty, was known and admired for her fun-loving attitude, youthful looks, hard-working example, award-winning pie baking, caregiver’s heart, mechanical aptitude, and though of modest means, her generosity. Her milk glass, dolls, Elvis record collection and memorabilia, among other collectibles, often gleaned from beloved “thrift stores,” were artfully displayed – as were dozens of framed family photos. A lifetime radio fan, music brought her much joy, evidenced by her hundreds of country, pop, and Motown LP’s, tapes, and CDs. She loved to dance. She was health-conscious, artistic, creative, and “oh so inventive”.
Being a Mommy and Grandma was her most loved role. But, she also worked in an amazing variety of part-time jobs, demonstrating an array of skills: serving at the post-war Navy Depot cafeteria, retailing at Lee’s 5 & 10 in town, assisting hair stylists, making donuts at midnight, selling Avon door-to-door, being a Teacher’s Aide, Nurse’s Aide at Harrisburg, Hospital and HealthSouth Rehab, performing clerical and payroll duties at the NC Army Depot.
Importantly, her life was, by choice, bookended by service to persons with differences and disabilities. In 1970, she was a “houseparent” in Pennsylvania’s first “group home,” during early State Hospital “de-institutionalization” days. She once worked there alone, round-the-clock for several weeks during a staffing emergency. In 1977, she was hired by the PA State Police Hdqtrs for a clerical job, of which she was so very proud and thankful. Making many friends, she was certainly appreciated for all the pies she made for special gatherings. After “retiring” at age 60 from the PSP, she returned to her heart’s love - working for twenty years, till age 80 (!!) as a Developmental and Physical Disabilities In-home Caregiver for Cumberland County MH/MR and later, United Cerebral Palsy. Doing this part-time while also providing fill-in, sometimes full-time, daycare to grandchildren.
In 2012, after surviving a major cardiac event, she received an amazing honor – presented the second only Central PA region “Lifetime Achievement Award for Healthcare Heroes,” recognizing her work in Disabilities. Hundreds of healthcare professionals rose to their feet to applaud her work and great heart at a special ceremony. Other recognition included a prior award as “Carlisle Area’s Finest Senior Citizen.” And her Blue Ribbon pie-making garnered frequent awards and newsprint. Her recent activity has been limited by her own disabilities, and especially by ill health over this past year. But she enjoyed countless hours of watching birdlife (and her very own white squirrel) at the feeders, cherishing her view of Stony Ridge Park, outside her window. And, she adored her constant companions, kitties Snowy and Lucky but she loved delightful visits often laughing with littlest T.J., Nevaeh, Sawyer and teen Mollie-Max and other guests, most especially her grandkids.
Join Ruth’s family on Wednesday, May 8 for her gathering from 11 am till noon, followed by a service celebrating her life at 12 pm, all at Buhrig Funeral Home and Crematory. Pastor Bob Bishard of Young’s United Methodist Church will officiate. Interment will be at Stone Church Cemetery beside Mom & Pop Walker with a brief service.
Ruth’s family has entrusted her care to Buhrig Funeral Home and Crematory in Mechanicsburg, (717) 766-3421. Read Ruth’s full obituary, view her memorial video and portrait, and sign her official guest book at Buhrig.com.