Memorial Minute

Ruth Stanton Kaltenbach
July 14, 1915 - January 2, 2004

Ruth Kaltenbach, a beloved member of Midcoast Meeting, died on January 2, 2004, in Reading, Massachusetts. Ruth was born into a Quaker family on July 14, 1915, at Westtown, Pennsylvania. Her father, Elwood Dean Stanton, and her mother, Esther Sidney Fawcett, were from Quaker families who had come to this country in the 1600s. She was the middle of five children and was very close to her family her entire life. She loved the campus of Westtown School, where she was brought up and where her father was business manager. After attending school there from first grade through high school, Ruth attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with Honors in Mathematics in the first class of the College of Liberal Arts for Women at the University.

In 1941 Ruth married John Kaltenbach. They lived for nine years in Chester County, Pennsylvania, farming and raising their family. She bore eight children between 1942 and 1959. The years between 1950 and 1963 were spent in Guilford, Connecticut, and in Rindge, New Hampshire, where they helped start The Meeting School. At a time when disabled children were seldom seen or even mentioned, Ruth and John included their son Andrew in all family activities. During these years, Ruth taught herself to weave. She continued to find contentment and an outlet for her creativity in this skill throughout her life.

In 1963 Ruth and John moved back to Pennsylvania, where they had a plant nursery and a shop which sold beautiful handmade and useful things. It was the right time for her to pursue her love of gardening and horticulture. In 1983, when Ruth was 69 years old and John began to have health problems, they retired to Maine, where they bought an old farm house in Cushing and became connected with Midcoast Meeting. John died in 1984. Following his death, Ruth focused her energy on the Coastal Workshop, an agency in Camden that works with retarded adults. She served on the board, was secretary, and helped in all their activities.

Ruth’s ten years with Midcoast Meeting occurred during a period of growth and change, and she was a devoted member. She transferred her membership to Midcoast in 1984. With her Quaker background, Ruth knew the importance of participation in all aspects of the Meeting. She not only attended Meeting very regularly, but also was faithful to business meetings and other Meeting affairs. During those years she served at various times as Recorder, Recording Clerk, and served on Ministry & Counsel and Hospitality Committees.

Ruth had a calm spirit and an integrity that were “of the earth.” She never had a harsh word to say about anyone and was philosophical in a simple, direct way. She witnessed to the Truth. Her comfortable kitchen was central in her life, and her wonderful breads, crackers, desserts, and wholesome foods were always a welcome contribution to any Quaker gathering. Visiting with her in her kitchen was a treat.

When one got to know Ruth, she was a wealth of anecdotes about her family and her life. She had a delightful sense of humor that carried her through her long life. Douglas Steere wrote a pamphlet, “On Being Present Where You Are.” Ruth was always “present” until the end of her life when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Ruth left Cushing in 1993 to live near Patience, her youngest daughter, in Pennsylvania, and to be within walking distance of her family. In 1998 she was no longer able to live alone and moved to Reading, Massachusetts, where she lived for five years at Daniel’s House. This small nursing facility was across the street from the library where her daughter Rachel worked, and Rachel was able to visit Ruth every day.

Ruth had a beautiful smile that lit up her face. She died at the age of 88 years and is survived today by 7 children, 17 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.

Approved by Monthly Meeting 11/19/04