Ruth Elizabeth Budke, 90, passed away in Asheville, Nov. 4, 2020.

Ruth was born in Fargo, North Dakota on June 11, 1930, to the late Sofie and Herman Larson. After growing up in Thief River Falls, Minnesota and Munising, Michigan, Ruth attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and graduated in 1951 with a degree in social work.

Right after graduation, Ruth traveled to Kudat, Bristish North Borneo, to be married to her college sweetheart, Clarence Budke, who was serving as a teacher and headmaster of the secondary school. She liked to tell of when the pilots flying her on the last leg of the journey were pointing out the sites as they came over Borneo.

After talking about many exotic places along the route and not knowing where she was headed, one motioned down to her destination and said, “And that’s the most God forsaken place on Earth!” So began her marriage and five years of service in Borneo and Tanganyika, East Africa.

In 1956 Ruth returned to the states and took a position as a social worker to support Clarence as he attended seminary in Springfield, Illinois. Following his vicarage in Rushmore, Minnesota, they took an assignment in 1962 to the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea, where they were to remain for most of the next decade.

During this time, Ruth worked with the locals to provide healthcare and education, while also caring for her family and often running the mission station for weeks at a time while Clarence was trekking to more remote areas.

Returning to the U.S., pastoral assignments took them to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1971, the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1972, and finally to Waynesville in 1978. Through all this time and well past his retirement from Our Savior Lutheran Church in 1992, Ruth remained a full partner in the ministry and focused on expanding women’s programs, Christian education, and mission support. And always, she was the unwavering center of the family.

Whether living in rural East Africa during the Mau Mau uprising, raising young children in a mountain clearing in New Guinea, caring for parishoners, or facing the onset of dementia in her last years, Ruth was defined by steadfast faith, courage, compassion and selflessness. Her faith led her to see the good in all and the purpose for her life. Yet for all of the adventure and impact of her life, her favorite times might have been the moments spent with her sisters having afternoon coffee and giggling uncontrollably over a silly joke.

Ruth is survived by her daughter, Susan Moore and son-in-law Tony; daughter Beth Lyle; son Tim Budke and daughter-in-law Rachel; seven grandchildren, three great grandchildren, her brothers Paul Larson and Dan Larson, sister Mary Heetland, and numerous nieces and nephews in addition to friends whom she loved dearly. She was preceded in death by Clarence, her husband of 66 years, as well as three bothers and two sisters.

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 24, at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 785 Paragon Pkwy., Clyde, NC 28721. If desired and in lieu of flowers, friends may make memorial contributions to the following: Lutheran World Relief — P.O. Box 17061, Baltimore, MD 21297-1061 or at LWR funds long-term, sustainable solutions to poverty.

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