Ruth Margaret (Tiessen) Strauss of Dallas, Texas passed away on Friday, September 4, 2020 at the age of 93.
Ruth was born in Monitor, Alberta to Russian immigrant parents Peter and Alida Tiessen, who fled to Canada from Latvia to escape communism. She was raised on a small rural farm. Her parents provided a Christian home, which gave her a love for church and God’s people. Her older sister helped her find peace and assurance through a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ at the age of 12, in the hayloft of the barn; a favorite place where she played and sometimes slept on summer nights.
Ruth discovered at a young age that she had a musical gift. She could play the piano by ear after hearing a tune just once. This talent came in handy throughout her life and she was still playing her keyboard a few weeks ago.
She attended a one room school house through junior high and then attended Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta where she graduated from high school. She continued at Prairie where she completed 3 years of Bible Training as she felt called to foreign missions. She just wasn’t sure where she would go. Upon graduating, she accepted a job with Commandos for Christ, which took her to Byron Bible Camp in South Dakota. It was here that she first crossed paths with Elmer, a Baptist minister and evangelist who was the guest speaker.
They were married on August 15, 1950 in Madison, South Dakota where together they served at the First Baptist Church until 1952 when they accepted the call to First Baptist Church in Ellinwood, Kansas. Amy and Holly where born during this second pastorate. It was also during this time, that Elmer openly expressed his interest in serving God in Cameroun, West Africa. He had been inspired by missionaries from there he occasionally met and his dad’s cousin who was one of the first missionary nurses to the country. Mystery solved. Ruth now knew where God was sending her in foreign missions. In 1957 the Strausses left Ellinwood to accept the one-year directorship of a traveling evangelistic team called God’s Volunteers. They crisscrossed the northern USA and Canada in a two-car caravan with two toddlers in tow. God was preparing Ruth for greater challenges ahead.
The following year the North American Baptist Conference commissioned them as missionaries to Cameroun and in 1958 they set sail for England and Africa. They served in various capacities on several mission stations and Ruth’s responsibilities included women’s ministry through local churches and specifically to wives of pastors. She wrote curriculum and taught them to read, write, sew, first aid, hygiene and on how best to be supportive to their husband’s work. Her service also extended to the 3H Girl’s Club. (Head, Heart and Hands for Jesus).
After their foreign travels they “retired” in 1975 and took a final pastorate in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1982 they were summoned again for their experience and they accepted one more tour of duty at a seminary located on the Mambila Plateau in northern Nigeria. In 1988 they “retired” again and moved to North Dallas to join their daughters who moved here in 1982.
Ruth’s hobbies included baking brownies, cookies and coffee cake, working all kinds of puzzles and reading one book a week. Most of all she loved the lost art of writing letters. She volunteered at one of the Carrollton libraries as a receptionist for those coming in to get help with their tax returns, worked as a docent (tour guide) at the Perry Homestead Museum in Carrollton and was a visitor at local elementary schools where she would entertain the kids with Show ‘n Tell about their African experiences.
She served as LeLouvre Tiimberglen Neighborhood Association’s (LTNA) New Neighbor welcoming point person from 2001 through 2008. She was a regular attendee of the Ladies Breakfast and annual events like the Cookie Exchange and BBQ Dinner. During her visits she greeted all new neighbors with a pan of home baked brownies and her sweet smile. In fact, the total number of homes she greeted was 151. She kept a log of every visit.
Ruth had a home-based ministry of encouragement sprinkled with trivia, humor and Bible verses, delivered through cards and letters. To the very end, the testimony of how she lived her life impacted even the hospice nurses who cared for her.
The little farm girl from Alberta enjoyed expansive travel experiences across the USA, the Middle East, Europe and destinations in between. If you asked her, she would be quick to say that she lived a rich and rewarding life beyond even her wildest dreams.
She left us as she would have preferred. At her home, peacefully asleep with her daughters by her side.
Ruth lived up to her Biblical namesake with her steadfast loyalty and heart for the Lord, her family, neighbors and friends scattered far and wide. She is so very missed by all of us!
Ruth 1:16…for where you go, I will go and where you lodge, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people and thy God my God. – Holy Bible
She is preceded in death by her parents, her beloved Elmer to who she was married for 50 years, her brother Alfred Tiessen and sister, Lydia Gamble. She’s survived by her daughters Amy Strauss, Holly Plank and her son-in-law Daryl, nieces Linda Gamble McKendry (Jim), Susan Gamble Unger (Terry), nephews Eldon Gamble (Ruth), Gary Gamble (Janice), and Jim Tiessen (Sheila) as well as cherished second cousins through marriage who reside in Detroit, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Ontario, Canada.
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