On April 24, 2022, Ruth J. Schuler, 89, passed away at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Silverdale, Washington. A funeral for Ruth will be held at 1:00 pm Pacific on Friday, May 20, 2022, at Port Madison Lutheran Church on Bainbridge Island. Friends and family who cannot attend in person are invited to participate by Zoom accessed through the Port Madison Lutheran Church website https://web.portmadisonlutheranchurch.org/home.
Ruth was born to Otto and Gertrud Bantau in Pillau, East Prussia, which was the eastern-most portion of Germany before World War II. Young Ruth grew up with two sisters and pleasant memories of German Christmas traditions, extended family, and summer days on the sandy beaches of the Baltic Sea.
The peace and security that Ruth enjoyed as a young child came to a tragic end in the closing months of World War II. East Prussia was invaded by the Soviet Union’s Red Army with widespread destruction and bitter retribution directed toward the German civilians. Ruth’s father was a prisoner of war and she and her mother and sisters became refugees (“Fluchtlings”) who were fortunate to escape with their lives. At the end of the war, they settled in Quedlinburg, Germany, where they had the misfortune of residing in the portion of Germany controlled by the Soviets.
Ruth completed high school under the East German socialist regime, but she was determined to escape to the west and freedom. With faith and help from a guide, Ruth snuck out of East Germany in a remote area where the Iron Curtain was still pervious to people willing to incur risk for freedom. She made her way to Frankfurt am Main where she found employment and a church for fellowship. Through her church connections, Ruth met a young American G.I., Barry Schuler, and, like the Biblical Ruth, on faith she married him when his Army service ended in 1956 and his people became her people.
Ruth traveled on a troop transport to the United States arriving in New York City with the welcome of the Statue of Liberty. She first settled in Minnesota where Barry’s family was located and the two of them became a family with the birth of Heidi (1961) and Galen (1963). In 1968, they moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho where Barry served as the President of North Idaho College for 18 years.
Ruth was a tremendous support to Barry’s career in higher education as she contributed hospitality and generosity to the many engagements and events involving North Idaho College and, later, the Williamson College of the Trades in Media Pennsylvania. Ruth was also an educator in her own right, teaching third grade at Bryan Elementary School in Coeur d’ Alene.
Ruth and Barry retired to Bainbridge Island, Washington in 1996. In retirement, Ruth passed on many of her German traditions and stories to the next generation of Schulers and she carried on her tradition of hospitality with everyone she met. She was always ready to share coffee, pastries, savory snacks, and chocolates with family, friends, neighbors, and visitors.
Ruth is survived by her daughter and son-in-law Heidi and Scott Marotz of Boise, Idaho, her son and daughter-in-law, Galen and Miyoung Schuler of Bainbridge Island, six grandchildren, Chase, Jillian, Hayden, Peter, Jackson, and Thomas, and two great grandchildren.
If you wish to honor the life of Ruth Schuler, memorial gifts should be directed to the “Barry and Ruth Schuler Scholarship” fund at the North Idaho College Foundation, Inc., 1000 West Garden Avenue, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814.