Cover photo for Wendy Jo Ruthe's Obituary
Wendy Jo Ruthe Profile Photo
1950 Wendy 2020

Wendy Jo Ruthe

June 14, 1950 — January 26, 2020

Wendy Jo Ruthe, age 69, passed away peacefully in her home January 26, 2020 at P.A. Peterson @ The Citadel, 1311 Parkview Ave, Rockford, Illinois after a long battle with ill health due to liver disease.

Wendy was born in Urbana Illinois, lived on a farm near Table Grove Illinois until age 11, and was a 1968 Harlem High School, Loves Park, Illinois graduate. She was a member of Bethany Presbyterian Church, Loves Park, Illinois.

Wendy, a SSG Staff Sergeant U.S. Army Veteran, served 1969 – 1985 as a stateside Medical Corpsman 9 years & in Reserve 6 years, working as a Nurse’s Aide and an Operation Room Tech. Wendy got letters of appreciation, and also won praise for organizing medical supplies at the Fort McCoy WI 1980 Cuban Mariel Boatlift refugee processing center. She served at 12 different bases from the East Coast to the West Coast, and Texas to Alaska.

Wendy had an Associate in Life Science at Rock Valley College, a SR Degree in Fiber/Fabric at Northern Illinois University, and did course work in Massage Therapy. Wendy retired from the medical field, as a sterilizing operation room equipment Tech, at OSF Saint Anthony Hospital in 2008.

Wendy was predeceased by her father Clarence Eugene Ruthe, and infant brother Robin Alexander Ruthe. She is survived by her Mother Donna “Daisy” R Bennett – Rockford, IL; her siblings – Melodie A (Thomas) Alvarez – Milwaukee, WI, Victoria K (Richard H Cogswell) (Gregory) Hahn – Elkhorn, WI, Christina R (Keith) Palesh - Denver, CO, John-Martin T (Michelle) Ruthe – Anchorage, AK, Gina E Ruthe – Rockford, IL; 8 nieces and nephews – Richard B (Kristi) Cogswell – Rockford, IL, Ruthelena M Alvarez – Milwaukee WI, Emanuel S Alvarez - Milwaukee WI, Katherine S (Joshua) Reich – Tucson AZ, Daniel H (Patricia) Cogswell – Kansas City, MO, Andrea E Palesh – New York, NY, Alexander D (Alexandra) - Loveland, CO, Nathaniel T (Daniela) Cogswell – White Bear Lake, MN; and 12 great nieces and nephews.

Wendy loved to talk with anyone as she always wanted to “learn something new”. No person was a stranger, and many people liked her. Family was always surprised that Wendy did not know the strangers that she befriended, and that she had so many friends/staff from Luther Center and P. A. Peterson @ the Citadel, etc. who really cared about her. Wendy loved walking all over downtown Rockford, and enjoyed parades, festivals, fairs, shopping, and any kind of food. Wendy also visited Europe, and took 2 cruises to Alaska, and did a white-water rafting trip.

Wendy could be gruff or kind, stubborn or patient, selfish or generous. She had artistic talent, & was known for her handcrafting especially crocheting. Wendy was a colorful collector (especially purple!) of deely bopper headwear, décor, and yarn for her beautifully crocheted creations.

Wendy was stubborn, independent, and did things her own way. She loved her loyal family in her own crusty, caring way and celebrated each new niece or nephew. Wendy was “a fighter” and her family is at peace that we were with her more the last few years to really get to know her, until she was able to finally pass away. She could talk with us, was conscious, and was not in pain until the last few days.

Wendy battled decades of worsening health and multiple predictions of imminent death through the last 8 years of her life. The family joked that she had at least 13 “cat lives”, even coming back from 5 days of not eating or drinking! Hospice gave up predicting Wendy’s last days, “because it’s Wendy, and she has fooled us before!”

The Family gives a heartfelt thank you for the care of the Heartland Hospice staff, and especially, the P. A. Peterson @ the Citadel staff who never left Wendy’s side in her last hours – playing her Beethoven, and having a priest come give her last rites (though not Catholic). Wendy in the last couple of years found her way back to God and Jesus, which helped her.
To honor her lifelong love of cats, Wendy requested charitable donations for Rockford PAWS or Noah’s Ark; and also, donations for National Women Veterans of America “”. Wendy requested that all consider doing Organ Donation Registration. After death, Wendy was able to donate anatomical gifts to Gift of Hope, which is not reliant on being in a hospital setting.

Visitation will be at Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory, Riverside Chapel, 3910 N. Rockton Ave., Rockford Illinois on Friday, February 28, 2020 from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. and at P. A. Peterson @ the Citadel, 1311 Parkview, Rockford, Illinois 1 p.m. prior to a 2 p.m. Memorial Service on Saturday, February 29, officiated by Wendy’s friend, Rev. Judy Hipple. Friends and Family are invited to stay for a light meal after the Memorial Service. Wendy will be interred in the Family plot later in a private ceremony at Oakwood Cemetery, Macomb, Illinois.

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, February 29, 2020

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Memorial Service

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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