Ruth Proffer McConkey, 93, passed on to eternal life on Friday, May 3, 2013, in Chesterfield, Mo. It was one day before what would have been her 72nd wedding anniversary; she married William George McConkey on May 4, 1941.
Ruth was born Sept. 6, 1919, in East St. Louis, daughter of the late Oliver George Proffer and Emma Grace Hayden. When Ruth was four, her mother died, leaving six children age ten and under. The siblings were separated and did not reunite until they were adults.
Ruth spent some time in an orphanage. She became the foster daughter of August J. Ebersohl and Maria (Mary) Dyroff Ebersohl of Merrimac in Monroe County.
Her elementary education was spent at Walnut Grove, a one room school which was next door to the Ebersohl home. She excelled at school. On the basis of Ruth’s eighth grade graduation scores she was awarded a teacher’s college tuition scholarship.
Ruth went to Valmeyer High School, but it was difficult because transportation was not provided. Sometimes she walked to school or boarded in Valmeyer. Because she did not want to be a teacher and she was a girl, finishing high school and attending college were considered foolish. After two years she left high school.
Her foster mother, Mary, was the Merrimac 4-H leader. Ruth learned to be an expert at cooking, canning and sewing. Ruth later became a 4-H leader and passed on her knowledge to the next generation. Ruth was a pitcher in the Monroe County Rural Youth softball team the year they won the state title.
She was confirmed at St. Paul Evangelical & Reformed Church in Columbia. She apprenticed as a beautician with Florence and Alice McConkey, who were sisters of her fiancé Bill. After getting her beautician license Ruth operated her beauty shop in Waterloo.
Ruth met the love of her life, William George McConkey, at the old round dance hall in Merrimac. They were both 16, born just four days apart. Bill went right over to Ruth, who was sitting with a number of young men, and asked her to dance. That night Ruth knew Bill was the man she was going to marry.
They danced all their lives, beginning at Columbia’s old Turner Hall and all the small country dance halls in rural Monroe County. They learned square dancing when they acted in the 1959 Columbia Centennial Pageant. Bill and Ruth joined various dance clubs and became expert Square, Round and Ballroom dancers.
They retired at age 57 and began spending winters in South Texas, eventually relocating in San Benito permanently. There they danced seven days a week. Ruth and Bill also traveled extensively.
Ruth was preceded in death by her parents, husband William G. McConkey, son-in-law Arthur R. Woodcock and her siblings Juanita, Jeanette, George, Olive and Dora Mae. Ruth is survived by three children and their families. Daughter Shirley Macias and husband Herbert of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, grandson Jason Patterson and wife Tara, great-grandchildren Caitlin, Alyssa, Ryan and Carolyn of Glendale Heights, Illinois. Daughter Susan Woodcock; granddaughter Angela Miller and husband Tim, great-grandchildren, Trenton and Hayden; granddaughter Patricia Brobeck and husband Bradley, great-grandchildren Christian, Grayson and Victoria. They are all of Niceville, Florida. Son Kenneth McConkey and wife Nancy of St Louis, Missouri, granddaughter Kimberly Carrasco of Tulsa, Oklahoma, great-grandchildren Michael Hesselbach II of O’Fallon, Missouri, Angela, Kaley and Solina Carrasco of San Antonio, Texas, step granddaughter Rachel Amratiel of St Louis, Missouri. Also surviving are sister-in-law E. Lorraine McConkey of Columbia and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, June 15, 2013, at St. Paul United Church of Christ, 127 St. Paul Street, Columbia. We will gather in the church fellowship hall to receive friends and family at 10 a.m. The memorial service begins at 11 a.m. Following the service a luncheon will be served in the fellowship hall. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the charity of your choice.