Ruth Aileen (Motz) Keister, 98, was a proud Ohio native from humble beginnings who never thought twice about helping others. She died July 26 of natural causes at Independence Village in Grand Ledge, Mich. Keister grew up on a Jelloway, Ohio farm near Loudonville. She went to school for eight years in a one-room schoolhouse with about 20 students. There were only three students in her class. Ruth first went to high school in Danville and then graduated from Loudonville High School in 1937.
Ruth’s first full-time job was as a cook at Lifer’s Turkey Farm near Loudonville. She made meals for farm workers for about four years. The turkey farm is where she met her future husband, Robert Keister. The two met on a blind date, set up by one of Ruth’s friends.
The Keisters were married in November of 1941, about two months before Robert enlisted in the Army. Robert served for the Army Air Force in Egypt and Italy. He serviced B24 Bombers. While in the service he was away from his wife for about three years.
At that time, Ruth worked on the farm her parents had near Loudonville. She rode horses to cultivate the garden and took over some of the work her brothers, Dick and Ernie Motz, typically did. Ruth’s two sisters, Annabelle and Helen, also worked there. Ruth tended to the farm while both of her brothers were in the Navy.
Robert and Ruth reunited after World War II in 1944. After the war, the Keisters established roots in the Barberton/Norton area. Robert had a career with the Great Northern Building and Loan Company from 1944 to 1970. He started as bank teller and ended as the company’s vice president. The Keister’s had two children, Bonnie and David.
While in Barberton, Ruth was active in her church and several women’s organizations. She attended Columbia Congregational Church and the First United Presbyterian Church in Barberton.
In 1970, Robert died of a heart attack at 55. Ruth stayed in the area after his death. She continued to live in Barberton and stayed there for the next 40 years. Ruth stayed active in the community; she volunteered at the First Presbyterian Church and served meals to those less fortunate.
Cooking was a specialty for Ruth; she was known among family members for a butterscotch pie which earned rave reviews. Her grape pie also won family members over. Her son, David, learned early on from his mother the importance of being thorough when preparing meals. David developed his love for photography after lessons from his father. In turn, David took his knowledge for the hobby and helped his mother learn how to take better photos.
Sports was also a love for Ruth; she followed Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians, the Ohio State University’s teams and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. One of her favorite athletes was LeBron James because of his skill and commitment to Ohio. James, from Akron, grew up a few miles from where Ruth lived most of her life.
One of Ruth’s most notable and accomplished hobbies was sewing. She made many of her own dresses and sewed all the clothes for Bonnie, her daughter, from first grade through college.
At 65, Ruth made an E.T. costume for her grandson, Eric Lacy, who loved the blockbuster movie. He wore the costume for several years and marched in a school parade with it on. Eric still has the costume and intends to have his daughter, Emma Lacy, wear it someday.
Later in life, Ruth and a friend of 20 years, Don Lee, traveled throughout the country. They traveled from Maine to California, and from Florida to Washington State, over a span of two decades. While at home, Ruth and Don enjoyed a weekly Friday night schedule of movies at a local theater. Ruth estimated she saw with Don over 100 movies. Each title was added to a handwritten list.
Ruth moved to Independence Village in Grand Ledge, Michigan in 2014 to be closer to her daughter and son who live in the state. Ruth is survived by her daughter, Bonnie Lacy, and Bonnie’s husband, William; her son David Keister and David’s wife, Ann; grandson Eric Lacy and his wife, Marie; grandson Kevin Lacy who lives in Arizona; one great-grandchild, Emma Lacy; and one brother, Ernest Motz.
Ruth was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Keister; longtime friend Don Lee; parents Otto and Ora Motz; one brother: Richard Motz, and two sisters: Annabelle Ruehling and Helen Heffelfinger. Donation in Keister’s name can be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Barberton, 636 W. Park Ave., Barberton, Ohio, 44203. A memorial service at Loyal Oak Cemetery in Loyal Oak, Ohio will be scheduled at a later date.