Will the circle be unbroken by and by, by and by? Is a better home awaiting ......
  • 92 years old
  • Born on February 25, 1926 in Low Gap, Arkansas, United States.
  • Passed away on January 16, 2019 in Harrison, Arkansas, United States.

     Today, the family and friends of Ruth Kilgore Keeling Edmonson Rodgers who passed away just a few weeks ago would have celebrated her 93rd birthday with her. While we are no longer able to do that we can rejoice for having known her, loved her, and be grateful for the memories that she left us. For us, the 25th day of February will always be a day for that.  

     Long and remarkable lives deserve to be remembered and their stories told. We have established this page in the hope that it will always be a place to record or view remembrances. The Life section of this page has more about her life and we welcome you to add your memories in the Stories section. As might be imagined, there are literally hundreds of photos and videos that document Ruth’s long life. We are in the process of organizing them and intend to add those that may be of interest to the Gallery section as we find them. 

    Ruth, who had survived being widowed three times, raising two sons, and a myriad of other trials and tribulations that over nine decades of life could throw at her, passed away on January 16, 2019, in Harrison, Arkansas.

    She was born on February 25, 1926, in Low Gap, Arkansas to Aaron Asberry "Berry" and Nancy Elizabeth "Bessie" Rice Kilgore, descendants of area pioneers. Ruth was the 8th of 11 (six boys and five girls).  All survived their childhood in an era and place where the odds made that unlikely. Eight brothers and sisters preceded her in death and she was the last surviving girl.

    Ruth and her siblings were all raised in the remote farming communities of Low Gap and Parthenon. Ruth, as most of her siblings, left home as a teenager to make her way in the world armed only with a very limited formal education and a great work ethic.

    At 16 she got her first job as a domestic worker at a boarding house in Jasper, Arkansas. At 17, wanting to see the “big city” she moved to Kansas City, Mo. to live with an aunt.

    At 18, Ruth married Bernie O. Keeling, an Army veteran and owner of a garage in Harrison, Arkansas. They had a son and at 19 she became a widow and single mom.

    In 1950 she married Clyde V. Edmonson in Harrison, Arkansas with whom she had her second son. In the early and mid-1950s, Clyde’s work took them to live in Sunnyside, Washington, Portsmouth, Ohio, and Jacksonville, Arkansas. In 1957, Ruth and her family moved back to Harrison to be near family. She had missed the large get-togethers and card games that often ensued. She worked at Oberman Manufacturing Co., a garment manufacturer, with many friends and relatives. Ruth was a champion bowler and traveled throughout Arkansas and Missouri to compete. Team and Individual trophies packed her shelves. She became a widow and single mother for the second time when Clyde died in January 1966. In July 1966, she and her youngest son moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia to be near two of her sisters. It would be her home for the next 50 years.

    In 1968 Ruth married Alvin "Sally" Land Rodgers, who was a magistrate, bail commissioner, and a volunteer fireman for Virginia Beach. Ruth worked at Oceana Naval Air Station for a short while and then became a Deputy Sheriff. She continued to work in the Virginia Beach Sheriff's Department until she retired.

    Ruth and Sally enjoyed traveling, bowling, making music, and gardening. Most of all, they enjoyed fishing, crabbing, and tonging for oysters at SARU Point, their Northern Neck home.  In 1994, Ruth became a widow for the third and final time. She continued to live in Virginia Beach close to family and friends. Many of her best friends were fellow attendees of the Church of the Nazarene and she always had a great time at their luncheons.

    Ruth was a renowned Bingo player. She often joked that her game bag was fully packed like a sailor’s sea bag and always ready to go. She was also known to occasionally give one-armed bandits a workout.

    She loved collecting porcelain dolls, Boyd's Bears, vinegar cruets, teapots, beanie babies, angels, and cd’s of old country music standards.

    What Ruth loved most was her family. Due to fate and circumstances, she was only able to spend the largest majority of her years with one of her sons and his family. She was never happier than when she was with them. Ruth played a huge roll in the lives of three granddaughters and could not have been more proud of the young women she saw them become. She was tremendously proud of her whole family regardless of time and distance and loved them with all her heart.

    In 2016, at the age of 90, Ruth decided to move back to Harrison after 50 years to spend time with her other son and his family as well as numerous nieces and nephews. It also greatly shortened the physical distance to her two surviving brothers. She enjoyed seeing people and places that she had not seen in a long time.

    The common afflictions of old age which had slowly multiplied began to do so more rapidly in her final months. Her health went into a downward spiral from which she could not recover but, being the survivor and fighter that she was, would battle nonetheless. Ruth had inherited the undeniable determined spirit of her Ozark Mountain ancestors and it had served her well until the very end.  

    Ruth is survived by her sons, Bernie Keeling and wife Francis of Ava, Missouri, Carson Edmonson and wife Jeanne of Chesapeake, Virginia, Grandchildren Craig Keeling, Cindy Keeling, Melissa Nelson, Jennifer Rockwell, Becca Edmonson, Great Grandchildren Alex, River, Arya, and Brynlee.

    Ruth is also survived by her brothers Kenneth Kilgore of Vancouver, Washington, and Truman Kilgore of Fremont, Nebraska as well as an amazing number of nieces, nephews, and cousins.

A funeral service was held on Monday, Jan.21, 2019, at Hillcrest Home in Harrison followed by interment in Maplewood Cemetery. Pallbearers were Craig Keeling, Brian Capps, Vic Yoder, Steve McBee, Bill Lovell, and Curtis Lane. Honorary Pallbearers were the staff of Hillcrest Home.

We would like to offer a special heartfelt thanks to Betty Lovell Smith, Missy McBee, Bill Lovell, Peggy Lovell Campbell, Floy Villines, and Reba Ruth Villines Taylor who helped their aunt immeasurably in her final years.  

We would also like to thank all of those who were involved in caring for her, especially the staff of the Hillcrest Home. While we may not know you personally it does not make our appreciation any the less so.

In Memoriam donations in Ruth’s name would be gratefully received by the Parthenon Volunteer Fire Department, c/o Matt Miller, HC72 Box 262c, Jasper, AR 73741.

The heading, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken...", denotes one of Ruth's favorite gospel songs.

Update: 05-12-19 A Mother's Day Memorial was added to the Life Section of this page.

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