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Ruth Elizabeth Claybourn

Joshua Claybourn

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Ruth Claybourn Smith

Ruth Elizabeth Claybourn passed away this week on 1 December 2010. Ruth was born 12 July 1918 in Benton, Illinois as the second child and only daughter of Noel Clyde Claybourn. Ruth loved school and graduated from Benton High School in 1936. Ruth was named “Miss Benton” in 1936 in a Personality and Beauty Contest and represented Benton in the contest at the State Fair in Springfield.

She married Elmer Ellsworth “Chick” Johnson (born 12 June 1913) on 3 December 1939. Chick was an oil well driller and operated his own company. The couple had a 100 acre farm between Elberfeld and Millersburg, Indiana, near Evansville and raised pure bred horses and ponies as a hobby. Along with Chick, Ruth loved life in the country with horses, gardening, swimming and other outdoor activities. She shared a lifelong love of reading with her children and enjoyed playing the piano and organ.

A fulltime mother until her children were all in school, Ruth was employed as a bookkeeper for J. B. Drilling Company and Francis Barnes Accounting, and later as an optical assistant in the office of Dr. Charles Brizius. She was always involved with her children in church, school, and scouting activities.

Chick and Ruth were also both active in various Masonic and Shrine activities. Chick was an active Mason and Shriner who served as Potentate of the Hadi Shrine Temple, while Ruth was active in Rainbow Girls as Mother Adviser and in the Daughters of the Nile and the Egyptian Band. Over a period of twenty plus years the couple enjoyed family activities with the Shrine White Horse Patrol and Chick was dedicated to helping organize the Shrine Circus every Thanksgiving.

Chick died in October of 1977 and, following his death, Ruth reconnected with a highschool classmate, Robert Smith, then living in California. After a courtship of several months by telephone, sight unseen, he proposed and they were married shortly after. Upon his retirement from the faculty at San Bernardino State College, they enjoyed travel and had a happy twenty years developing a mutual interest in ceramics from throwing pots to sculpture, studying under Les Miley at Evansville College and at San Bernardino State College in California.

In Ruth’s older age she had moved into a home for the elderly in Evansville, Indiana, and one day while not feeling particularly well, she requested that a nearby harp be played for her. As the beautiful music filled the air that day on 1 December 2010, Ruth passed away.