Ruth Elna Amelia Van Wambeke went home to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on November 26, 2020, at the age of 100.
The second of five children, Ruth was born in 1920 on a farm in Nebraska to Andrew and Amelia Bjornberg. By the late 1920s, the family had moved to the Des Plaines area. At the age of 11, her family moved to Barrington where they attended the Salem Church and it was during evangelistic services there that Ruth came to Christ for forgiveness and salvation, a decision that would bless her life and the life of her family forever.
Ruth would recall summers attending camp meetings, at the Salem Church campgrounds along Highland and Hillside Avenues, as a wonderful part of her growing up years, where there were cottages and a large and small tabernacle on the grounds at that time. She also remembered well the summer the peat bog behind their home burned, forming Baker’s Lake as a result. Ruth attended the Hough Street Barrington High school where she enjoyed taking part in the chorus and a cappella choirs, and GAA and sports, with baseball being a favorite. Upon graduation, she took comptometer training in Chicago and became a secretary in the office of the Jewel Tea Company, headquartered in Jewel Park, where she sang in the Jewel Tea chorus and played on the Jewel Tea ladies’ softball team, earning her the nickname of ‘Stretch’.
In 1942, she married Robert (Budd) H. Van Wambeke. Budd served overseas in the army during World War II. Following the war, they built a home in Barrington, where they raised their four children, Judith, William, Diane, and Shirley. In 1948, they opened a jewelry store in Park Ridge. In 1961, they joined with seven others to become charter members of the Village Church of Barrington. Ruth and Budd taught the church’s Awana program and in those early years it was held in the old Hough Street school gymnasium.
Ruth was a wonderful wife and mother and homemaker, and she and her husband enjoyed 43 years of marriage together until his passing in 1985.
In her later years she often traveled, visiting family around the country and in Sweden, and she continued to enjoy serving her friends and family in her home during visits that always included lots of humor, wonderful home-cooked meals, and the frequent games of Scrabble in which she was a lifelong apt competitor. Through the years, Ruth stayed actively involved in her church, and Bible studies, and helped with many outings for the senior women. She appreciated so much the many kind neighbors and friends she had.
In 2017, at the age of 97, she was privileged to be the honorary grand marshal of the Barrington High School homecoming parade, as a member of the Class of 1937, honoring her 80th class reunion. In the summer of 2020, Ruth celebrated her 100th birthday which included a zoom gathering with over 60 family members. She also so appreciated and enjoyed a birthday parade hosted for her by her church, and was so honored to have it be led by Barrington police officers and firefighters, past her home, as neighbors and family gathered there to watch and celebrate with her. God blessed her with a full and long life.
Ruth was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Van Wambeke, her parents, Andrew and Amelia Bjornberg, siblings, George Bjornberg, Esther Bjornberg, and Phyllis Gough, daughter-in-law Barbara Van Wambeke, son-in-law Charles Gessner, and five grandchildren.
She is survived by her sister, Sylvia Temmer, her four children, Judy(Steven) Moseman, William(Debra) Van Wambeke, Diane(Marvin) Solberg, and Shirley Gessner, fourteen grandchildren, and fifteen great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews, and grand and great grand nieces and nephews.
Ruth was loved and will be greatly missed. She will be especially remembered for her faith and trust in God, a heart for those less fortunate, and as one who prayed so faithfully for her family and for others.
A memorial service is planned in the new year. A private burial was held at Evergreen Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the Village Church of Barrington and to Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree.
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