- Published: April 19, 2012
Ruth was born on Dec. 26, 1917, at “The Cedars,” the 1829 homestead of her great-great grandparents, in Palmer Township, Washington County, to Jean Lake and Alma Morris Gribble. Ruth did not attend first grade because there were no other children of school age in her neighborhood. Her mother was her first teacher. The next year, Ruth and her sister Mary attended a one-room school. Mary was old enough for first grade and Ruth was ready for second grade. In 1936, Ruth graduated from Barlow Rural High School and then attended Ohio University to get her two-year teaching certificate. Ruth began teaching primary grades in a two-room school in Barlow, Ohio. She briefly taught kindergarten in Yellow Springs. In 1971, she completed her bachelors degree in education at Wright State University while teaching at Four Oaks School in Xenia. Ruth taught 18 years at Four Oaks, serving as principal her last year.
During WWII, Ruth and her husband, Guy, moved to the Yellow Springs area to work at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. She became an active volunteer for 4-H, PTA, Cub Scouts, Yellow Springs United Methodist Church, Friendly Gardeners and the Clifton Old Timers Club. She was a 75-year member of the Marietta Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star. Her activities reflected her love of the outdoors, children and her strong, quiet faith.
Ruth was a prolific writer. She loved to write stories about her family and childhood, wrote frequent and interesting letters to friends, her children and grandchildren. She loved researching family history and corresponded with many of her fellow genealogists. Ruth was a conservationist and naturalist, following her parents’ commitment to be respectful of the earth. She was an avid birdwatcher, gardener and hiker. She was an early member of the Glen Helen Association and the Nature Conservancy. As a member of Tecumseh Land Trust, she donated an easement on her little farm.
Ruth married Guy Archer Varner in 1940. They have four children: Howard and wife Molly of Cutler, Ohio, June Varner of Yellow Springs, Janet and husband Gene Ward of Urbana and Carol and husband James Brack of Martinsville, Ind. There are three grandchildren: Cecily Adam of Urbana, Elizabeth Brack and husband Jesse Williams of Paris and Chicago, Ill. and Gwendolyn Brack of Carmel, Ind. Ruth is also survived by her brothers Robert Gribble of Cutler, Bruce Gribble and sister-in-law Jean of Canton, Ohio, and sisters-in-law, Jean Gribble of Cutler, Donna Stackhouse of Valrico, Fla. and Kathryn Stephens of Enon. There is a large family of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Her parents, husband Guy, sister Mary Yost and brother James Gribble preceded Mrs. Varner in death, as did sisters and brothers-in-law, Bernice and Orson Knisley, Freda and Frank Jones, MaryLou and Benson Varner, Ray Stackhouse, Forest Stephens, Marie Gribble and Lulu Gribble. Visitation will be held Friday, April 20, 5–8 p.m. at the Yellow Springs United Methodist Church. Graveside services will be held Saturday, April 21, at the Union Cemetery in Fairfield Township, Washington County. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made to the United Methodist Church, 202 S. Winter Street, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387 or Tecumseh Land Trust, P.O. Box 417, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387.