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Ruth Louise Williams Stearns, age 92, formerly of Rye, died peacefully at her home in Falls Church, Virginia, on January 13, 2017, after a fall three weeks earlier.

Born on October 26, 1924 in Chicago, she was the daughter of Daniel E. and Flora Janssen Williams. She grew up in Maywood, Ill., graduating from Proviso High School in 1941. She spent her freshman year of college at Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin, where she was a member of Kappa Delta sorority. She then left school to go to work, including for the American Can Company, supporting its wartime efforts to feed the troops.

After World War II ended, she resumed her college education, at the University of Chicago. There, she met her future husband, Richard T. Stearns, a fellow student and an Army veteran originally from Worcester, Mass. They were married on September 20, 1947.  The following year, she received her Bachelor of Philosophy.

Drawn by educational and employment opportunities, in 1950 Ruth and Richard moved to Albany, Calif., where she worked for Up-Right Scaffolds; then to Arlington, Va., in 1952, where she worked for the federal government; and then to Hinsdale, Illinois, in 1953, where she worked for United Air Lines, and where her daughters were born. Mr. Stearns’ position with the Hertz Corporation, during a period of expansion for the car rental firm in Europe, brought the family to the suburbs of London, England, in 1959; and then to Rye, in 1962. From 1975 to 1981, the Stearns owned and operated the Lighthouse Bookstore in Rye. 

In 1981, the couple moved to Ormond Beach, Fla., where Ruth worked as a reference librarian at the public library and volunteered with the police department, typing police reports. After Richard passed away in 1994, she spent more years in Florida, relocating in 2009 to the Goodwin House in Falls Church, to be close to her daughters.

Among many other things, Ruth Stearns loved to write, read mysteries, play cards (favorites were bridge and the game called “May I,” which was a family tradition), listen to music, watch movies (especially those starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald), play the piano, knit (including sweaters for penguins as part of a special environmental project after an oil spill), and make friends with every dog she met.  She moved comfortably into the computer age, making great use of her amazing typing skills. 

Her volunteer work with the police gave her the chance to ride along with an officer both in a police car and on a motorcycle. In Florida, she was on the board of the Friends of the Ormond Beach Public Library.

She is survived by her two daughters, Amy and Laurie, both of Alexandria, Virginia. She is buried at Mt. Emblem Cemetery, in Elmhurst, Ill., with her parents and her husband. 

Donations in Ruth Stearns memory may be made to the Goodwin House Foundation, 4800 Fillmore Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22311.


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