Ruth R. Lawlis, a life-long resident of Salem, died peacefully at the Salem Center Nursing and Rehabilitation facility on December 11, 2018. She was 95 years of age.
Mrs. Lawlis was born in Joseph Mills, WV, on November 19, 1923. She was the daughter of Ora Carson Riggs and Edith Minnie Farrell Riggs. She attended Ritchie County public schools and graduated Salutatorian of her class at Pennsboro High School.
In 1940 Mrs. Lawlis moved to Salem and married James Harold Hayes. They bought a home on Patterson Street (now Wilson Addition Road) where she lived until two months before her death. They had one daughter, Linda Sue Mosher of Suffolk, Virginia. James Hayes was killed in action while serving in WW II with the 142 Infantry Regiment of the 36th Infantry Division of the United States Army.
In late 1945, Mrs. Lawlis married Russell Lawlis, also a life-long resident of Salem. Together they had one daughter, Elizabeth Morgan of Easton, Maryland. Mr. Lawlis, a United States Army Veteran, also served his country honorably in WW II spending most of his service time in the Aleutian Islands. He died in 1990. They were married nearly forty-five years.
Ruth Lawlis had many friends. She had a wide range of interests that included education, government, Christianity and social outreach. As a young mother she volunteered tirelessly at Harden Grade School serving often as Home Room Mother for both daughters' classrooms while working on projects to further the educational pursuits of each class. She was instrumental in the passage of the first Harrison County School Levy.
Mrs. Lawlis was a staunch believer of the importance of exercising the right to vote and she never missed voting in any election. She was part of a statewide voters' registration project where she canvassed residents to educate, encourage and register people to vote in her neighborhood. For many years she was a volunteer at the Salem Election Polling Place.
Perhaps the love of Ruth's life, next to her love of family, was her work at the Salem United Methodist Church where she was a member for seventy-five years. As such, she held office in every area of the church, year after year chairing committees and furthering the church's community outreach. She taught Sunday School and sang in the church's choir. She was an avid student of The Bible. For over thirty-five years, Mrs. Lawlis hosted the annual Salem United Methodist Church Women's Society Christmas Party. Under her encouraging direction, the party grew to include the women of local satellite churches in the annual event. A few years ago, in recognition of her devotion, it was voted to formally recognize the gathering as the Ruth Lawlis Christmas Party.
Reading and working cross word puzzles were also important daily passions. She read and exchanged hundreds of books with friends In the late nineties, Mrs. Lawlis was instrumental in a committee that established the Salem Free Public Library which serves valley residents and is still in existence today. Ruth belonged to a local bridge club and often hosted the group in her home for an evening of card playing.
She also loved local sports and for years along with friends attended the West Virginia Basketball Tournament in Charleston. She loved playing a round of golf at the Salem Golf Course.
In addition to these activities Mrs. Lawlis was an accomplished seamstress. She loved beautiful clothing and over the years she made many of her own clothes and the clothes of her daughters. She often sewed into the night. She was a wonderful cook, kept a garden and preserved dozens of different varieties of fruits and vegetables. With all her activities she always made certain she was at home to greet her daughters when they arrived home from school.
Ruth Lawlis was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. She helped found the charter chapter of Rainbow Girls, the young women's organization of the Order. She also belonged to several organizations including the Harrison County Historical Society, Veteran's Wives, Salem Country Club, The Blue Flames, The Women's Club of Salem, Salem Garden Club, Salem International University Auxiliary, Women's Society of Salem United Methodist Church, "Birthday Girls" and The Tuesday Lunch Bunch.
Mrs. Lawlis is survived by her two daughters Linda and Elizabeth, one son-in-law, Frederick Morgan, one grandson, Russell Mosher and his wife Gail, one granddaughter, Barbara Samples and her husband Mike, and one great grandson, Scott Samples. In addition she is survived by a sister, Bernadean Molnar of Sandy Creek, PA, nephew Michael and his wife Janet, and nephew Jack Riggs of California. Also surviving are sister Catherine Amos, brothers Joe Riggs and his wife Virginia and Donna Riggs, wife of deceased brother Ronnie. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews including Carol Fluharty, Kevin Fluharty, Carla Collins and her husband Ben and Helen Fleming and her husband Jim.
A visitation will be held on Friday, December 21 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Greathouse Funeral Home in Salem. Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 22, at The Salem United Methodist Church with Rev Kevin Bender officiating. Ruth will lie in repose one hour prior to service. Interment will follow at the Mt Olive Baptist Church Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Ruth’s memory to the Salem United Methodist Church, 183 E Main Street, Salem, WV, 26426. Online condolences can be made at www.greathousefuneralhomewv.com
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