3251 South 2300 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84109 | TEL. 1-801-484-2045
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Ruth Esther (Holladay) Waters

August 18, 1922 ~ March 28, 2018 (age 95)

The world was changed forever when Ruth Esther was born in mid-August 1922. The eldest child of John Lyman and Esther Pauline Olsen Holladay, she was the only girl and the only grandchild that her Grandpa Dr. Charles Ludvig Olsen would deliver before his passing 7 months later. Ruth was born in Salt Lake City where she lived with her growing family, typical of the times. Esther gave birth to a string of boys and provided Ruth with the education of not only being the #1 child, but being the only girl among a passel that included Robert, Donald, Dick, Lee, Brent and Duane. Her surviving siblings include Don & Lee, with others having passed on before her.

Ruth was an adventurous and curious child. She was doted on immediately by her 4 Aunts, later dubbed as her “Board of Directors”. These 4 women were Esther’s unmarried career-gal sisters and they made sure that Ruth had the best of everything, including the latest hairstyles and fashions from the city. She was the apple of their eyes and largely due to their abundant attention, Ruth grew into a very self-assured and confident woman.

The family moved to Idaho for a time and Ruth graduated from Kuna High in tiny Kuna Idaho. She returned to Salt Lake and lived with her beloved Grandma Pauline Heinz Olsen, biding her time until she could join the Navy. Her parents, having 2 boys already in WWII, refused to sign a permission slip for Ruth to join, so on her 21st birthday, she marched into the recruiting office and signed up herself. The world was her oyster at that point and she was determined to enjoy every available moment.

Ruth often told others that she made up her mind when she was young, that she could choose to be happy or choose to be miserable. Fortunately for the world, she chose to be happy. She was stationed in Washington D.C. as a Wave and later at Patuxent River Naval Station where she was the only female Chief on the entire base. She had lots of fun in the Navy, as a lovely young woman who the young pilots wanted to impress. Because of this, she went on many ‘test flights’ in planes not certified for service yet - sounds scary but she was a daredevil. During this time, she took advantage of being close to New York City and made a point of attending as many Broadway shows as she could. Ruth loved movies and everything having to do with live or filmed entertainment. She was a veritable encyclopedia of who starred in what and when. And the movie subject wouldn’t be complete without mentioning her 2 Heros: John Wayne and Ronald Reagan. Aye Yai Yai….

Ruth met her husband at Patuxent River and they soon married. She became stepmom to Joseph Clark Brinkerhoff Waters daughters, Michelle and Merry Jo. Their first baby was born in Connecticut, Janelle Diane. She was followed by JoEllin Lorraine and Julianne Patrice, all born one year apart. Mom had pretty much decided to not have kids until she met Joe Waters, our Daddy. We owned him Lock, Stock and Barrel and mom knew it!

Dad was career Navy and as such was stationed in various locations over the years. We moved to Honolulu Hawaii where Dad was stationed at Pearl Harbor on submarines as the only
medical man on board. Meanwhile, Ruth Loved the Hawaii lifestyle but as happens, they were transferred to Seattle Washington. She took on several different jobs in Seattle, including running the Seattle Supper Club and introducing Rhodes bread to the Northwest. Ruth was always motivated to try new things and was always successful in her endeavors. She became active in political campaigns in an attempt to make the world a better place, in her eyes.
Anybody who knows Ruth will attest to the fact that when it comes to her beliefs, she does not back down. Being an intelligent woman and a reader of history, she would hold her own in debates with pretty much any willing soul. They were usually the worse for wear afterwards and typically learned their lesson after one or two encounters: that being, don’t argue with Ruth.

Seattle was home until Joe retired at the ripe old age of 47, after 30 years in the Navy. They were nowhere near ready to ‘settle down’ though and started a whole new life in Soda Springs Idaho, where they owned and operated a Sears Merchant store. By this time, the daughters were out on their own and they poured themselves into their new community. As was always the theme in their lives, their store broke all the sales records in the Western Region. Ruth never did anything halfway. They built a beautiful home set up on a hill overlooking the valley and then the good times did roll.

Ruth’s very favorite role in life was Grandma and she perfected the name in every way. Grandma & Grandpa’s house became party central for family gatherings being it was large and could accommodate us all as our families grew. The grandkids in order of birth are: Leyla (deceased), Marisa (deceased), Stephanie, Jessica (deceased), Natalie, Joey, Ryan, Amanda, David, Jack, James, Mathew Harrison and Lauren. In addition, she became a loving grandma to Julianne’s “other kids”: Kris, Josh, TJ & Josie Fitzgerald. She invested loving energy into giving these honored grandchildren memories of camping trips, fun times in Idaho, river trips and just having her voice be the first one they each heard on their respective birthdays. She rarely missed calling one child. She loved rocking the babies and singing to them. Daddy teased that the kids would fall asleep out of self-defense from her singing! Hahaha, her grandkids will be repeating stories and memories for the rest of their lives about Grandma Waters. She was one of a kind and will be sorely missed.

Ruth & Joe moved to Arizona in 1994 where they lived until Joe passed away in 1999. At that point, Ruth moved to Moab Utah, encouraged by Julianne et al so she would be near family. She lived happily in Moab for 15 years and worked at City Market until the age of 90. She made many many friends in Moab and they were sad to see her move to Salt Lake 4 years ago so Julianne could watch over her. A highlight for Ruth during this time was going on the Honor Flight to Washington DC. She joined many other veterans for this wonderful experience and she was inducted into the Women in the Military Museum as part of the proceedings. (See link below to be directed to a recording made of Ruth as part of the Veterans Project approx. 2011. This recording is archived in the Library of Congress). After healing from 4 serious falls, Ruth moved to Friendship Manor where she could once more be independent. She loved Friendship Manor and made many fast friends there.

On December 14, 2017, Ruth’s go-to granddaughter Marisa passed away unexpectedly and that’s when, as she put it herself, “her lights went out”. Realizing Mom was declining rapidly, Julianne moved into her apartment with her to tend to her 24/7 at the beginning of February. She was a joy to the very end and had the chance to see and commune with all of her family prior to passing on Wednesday, March 28 at 3:10 a.m.

Ruth was loved by many and it was because she was such a loving person. She loved her Sisters-in-law as dearly beloved sisters. Her Nieces and Nephews all loved her very much and she would like it if they were mentioned here:

Don & Doone Holladay’s children: Lecia, Lynn, Keith, Susan and Paula
Dick Holladay’s children: Robby (deceased), Pam, Lisa (deceased), Scott, Jody (deceased), Nicole,
Brent & Shirley Holladay’s children: Danny, Tanya (deceased), Robin, Bob, Jill and Logan Lee & Nettie Holladay’s children: Arenda, Nora and David

Ruth lived a long and happy life. We promised her that her legacy will live on through her grandkids and we’ll make sure it does.

Recording of an interview with Ruth from 2011;


Memorial: Sunday April 8, 2018 4:30 PM
                  Friendship Manor - Room A
                  1320 E. 500 South 
                  Salt Lake City
                  Julianne: 435-452-8177



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