Ruth Sorensen

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On October 8, 2015, at 8 a.m., a wonderful wife and mother, Ruth Delores Sorensen, died in Hood River, Oregon at her home. She was a product of the Depression, strong and resilient. Her hometown was small, Elkader, Iowa, on the Turkey River. Sleigh rides, strap on skates, hearty lunches at noon, all were a part of Ruth’s childhood. She was a New Year’s baby, born January 1, 1924. Her father, Edward Burlingame, who at one time lived in Montana and rode on the prairie with American Indians, owned a general store, and knew how to pinch pennies. Elizabeth Burlingame was a fabulous cook, untiring church volunteer and warm, loving mother.

Ruth was a devout Catholic and grew up in a big family; Edward and Bernard were the oldest, Dorothy came next, followed by Gladys and Marjorie, with Ruth being the youngest for quite a while until Barbara showed up. She attended a small Catholic school, St. Joseph’s (high school graduating class of seven), which made for close friendships. Ruth kept in contact with her school friends her whole life and continued to receive the Elkader paper in the mail. 

Ruth’s athletic ability was evident in her basketball prowess; she was a star player on the girls’ basketball team and later found that she was a top scorer, which she reflected on humbly. After graduating high school, Ruth was in nursing school awhile and then became a NW Bell telephone operator. She met a very attractive, tall, blond, young man at a local café. While dating, the two danced to Tommy Dorsey, Louis Armstrong, and Glenn Miller. Jim Sorensen fell hard for Ruth, and theirs was a rare and passionate love. After much persistence on his part, they married in 1949, and moved to Dubuque, Iowa where Bruce was born. They moved to Loves Park, Illinois where Kathy, Paul and Mary were born.

Ruth was a stay-at-home mom, participated in choir, was a Brownie mother, Cub Scout den mother, was on church committees, and for enjoyment bowled, went fishing, camping and golfed. Later on as an empty nester, she belonged to a gourmet club, book clubs, a bridge club, and garden club. 

Ruth and Jim produced a lovely and thriving garden landscape for all of their homes, which after Loves Park, included Muskegon, MI, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Chillicothe, OH and finally Hood River, OR from 1989 to the present.

Her modesty, one of her many admirable qualities, led her to be critical of her culinary efforts. In Ruth’s mind, her meals were “not quite what she wanted”, while those eating couldn’t imagine a more delectable meal. Her pies were masterpieces, a skill learned from her mother. She loved visits from friends and family and felt this always required feeding them, especially sweets.

Ruth is survived by her two sisters, Barbara Mohning, of Garnavillo, IA, and Marge Hamann of Elkader, IA, her daughter Kathy Oates and husband Mike of Hood River, OR, her son, Paul Sorensen and his wife Sue of Oregon City, OR, and her daughter Mary Stunz of Hood River, OR. Her grandchildren include, Jessica Storm and husband Eric of Portland OR, Sarah Fox and husband Bob of Hood River, OR, Corinne Dichter and husband Russell of Hood River, OR, Elizabeth Stunz of El Paso, TX, Jimmie Oates and wife Katrina of Hood River, OR, Teresa Fangamou of Hood River, OR, and Becca Stunz of Moscow, ID. Ruth’s great grandchildren include Kristin and Justin Fox, Sante and Elliott Storm, Mawa Fangamou, and Jacqueline Ruth Dichter, and many nephews, nieces and other relations.

Those who have predeceased her include her two brothers, Edward and Bernard Burlingame, her sisters Dorothy Hedeman and Gladys Mentzel, her husband, Jim, and her son, Bruce.

All of her offspring are united in their admiration of this elegant, kind, and wise woman. Ruth had a wry sense of humor, a bright smile, an uplifting outlook combined with a gentle nature, and verve and stubbornness that commanded respect. Ruth was knowledgeable and ardent in her political views, she read regularly, and informed herself of the contemporary world, which has changed greatly throughout her life. She assimilated and took it in stride, with grace.

Ruth’s absence is a painful reality, but her legacy will be carried on through the lives of all she has touched. Her answer to life’s troubles was to love each other. We love you, Ruth.

A service to honor Ruth was held Monday, October 19th at St. Mary’s Catholic Church (1501 Belmont Avenue, Hood River); viewing at 9:30 a.m., rosary at 10:30 a.m. and mass at 11 a.m., with graveside rites to follow, then a reception.

Arrangements are being handled by Anderson’s Tribute Center, Hood River, Oregon. Please visit to leave a note of condolence for family.

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