Ruby Esther Friesen

Ruby Esther Friesen, 96, of Mount Angel, Ore., died Nov. 14, 2020. She was born Nov. 22, 1923, to John H. and Katie Ensz Friesen in American Falls, Idaho.

Ruby Esther Friesen

Growing up on a farm, she became especially close to older sister Margaret, especially since Ruby skipped a grade and they took the same classes from third grade through the second year of college.

At age 16 she attended Bethel College in North Newton, Kan., to prepare to be a teacher. After one year she returned to Idaho to attend Albion State Normal School to get her teaching certificate. She taught for four years and then returned to Bethel to graduate. She then went on to library school at the University of Denver.

She began her library career in Twin Falls, Idaho. In 1952 she was hired at Salem Public Library. She chose Salem because she wanted to stay in the western part of the United States to be close to family and go to a city with a Mennonite church. She worked at the Salem library for almost 30 years as a reference librarian, and at the time of her retirement was assistant director. She continued to volunteer at the library for another 13 years.

Before starting work at Salem, she did a year of voluntary service with Mennonite Central Committee as an activity director at a mental hospital in Reedley, Calif.

Salem Mennonite Church became her church family in 1977. She helped begin the Salem Mennonite Book Club in 1991 and served as church librarian and historian.

Family was important to her, and she spent many holidays traveling home to be with her parents and siblings.

Mount Angel Towers was her home from 2008 until her death. Her favorite games included Scrabble, UpWords and Boggle, and she was very hard to beat.

Survivors include 16 nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by all eight of her siblings and two nephews.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. Donations may be given to MCC, Bethel College, Salem Mennonite Church or Salem Public Library.

Sign up to our newsletter for important updates and news!