July 2, 1935 – April 11, 2022
Elk Grove, California – Diana Ruth of Elk Grove, passed away peacefully on April 11, 2022, surrounded by her family. She was 86 years old.
Diana was born in Sacramento, graduated from Sacramento High School and received a BS degree from University of San Francisco. She specialized in Early Childhood Education, focusing primarily on the preschool years. Diana was involved in preschool as a parent, a volunteer and a teacher from 1962 to 1992, a span of 30 years. Among the places Diana taught were Prairie Elementary School, the Florin Parent Cooperative Pre-School, and Florence Markofer Elementary School in the Elk Grove School District. Diana taught in the earliest Head Start programs, designed to ensure that low-income families had access to early education before transitioning to elementary school. She was also one of the early supporters of including children with disabilities in regular preschool classrooms at a time when these children were often segregated into separate learning environments. Diana touched many young lives and the hearts of their parents with her dedication, approachability, patience and encouragement.
Diana supported civil rights organizations, environmental causes, and animal welfare groups. She cherished the earth and all of its beauty but most of all she loved people. She was a secular humanist. Diana belonged to the American Humanist Association for over 45 years. She liked getting together with fellow humanists for talks, lectures and discussion groups and attending statewide conferences. She respected and was interested in the lives of everyone she met. One of her favorite songs was “Imagine” by John Lennon. She never stopped believing that we could all live in peace and care for one another.
On summer vacations Diana and Al would take their children camping in California’s National and State Parks. One year, they took their three pre-teens on a six-week road trip in a 60’s era Volkswagen camper visiting 27 states and 3 provinces in Canada. Traveling with young kids over long distances in a small van generated countless tales of family escapades. Among the stories repeated through the years were seeing skyscrapers and lightning bugs for the first time, getting lost driving through the streets of Chicago, riding horses in Utah, seeing Dionne Warwick in concert, and temporarily losing the smallest child in the crowds at the former 1967 world’s fair in Montreal. Diana and Al recall parking the van in front of the US Capitol and being welcomed into Senator Cranston’s office without an appointment by the Senator himself. The sibling tussles over which of the kids had to sit in the middle of the rear seat was a dispute Diana gracefully managed to mediate for over 8,000 miles.
In retirement years Diana and Al made several trips to Europe visiting over a dozen countries, and traveled on multiple cruises. They especially enjoyed their visits to Scotland, the birthplace of Diana’s mother and grandparents. Diana enjoyed spending time with Al in their beautiful flower garden, shopping and dining with friends, being with family and reading biographies and mystery novels. She relished the company of the many dogs in their lives, so many it was hard to count them all. She loved attending the Sacramento Jazz Festival every year, the State Fair, the Music Circus, going to the theater and seeing plays. Diana enjoyed all kinds of music including jazz, folk, country, opera and classical music.
Diana will be remembered as a kind and gentle soul by all who knew her. She loved being a mother to her three children and was a generous, gracious and caring friend. She will be dearly missed by Al, her loving husband of 66 years. They met in a psychology class at Sacramento State University in 1955, and married the next year. She will live in his heart forever and he will always remember her smiling face.
Diana is survived by her husband Al Ruth, her daughter Carolyn Ruth of McKinleyville, her sons Craig Ruth and Christopher Ruth of Sacramento, her sisters Janet Atkins of Capitola, Dorothy Sherrard and brother George Just of Sacramento, several nieces and nephews, cousin Barbara Wilkinson of East Haddam, Connecticut, her best friends JoAnne Gatejen of Elk Grove and Barbara Christl of Sacramento and her devoted dog Rusty. Diana was preceded in death by her mother Marion Stafford (Wright), her father Hershel Just, and siblings Chuck Neil, Orson Just, Martin Just and Angela Murray-Bellerive.
The Ruth family wishes to thank the Revere Court Memory Care staff on Rush River Drive in Sacramento, especially the dedicated caregivers in Cottage 3, and Seasons Hospice for the compassionate and professional care they gave Diana in the last year of her life.
No service or memorial is planned at this time. Interment is at East Lawn Memorial Park at 4300 Folsom Boulevard in Sacramento. Donations in Diana Ruth’s memory can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, the Sacramento SPCA or organizations that support children, civil rights, animal welfare or the environment.
Published by The Sacramento Bee on May 15, 2022.