Ruth H. McGraw
Ruth H. McGraw was born on August 2nd, 1916, in El Dorado, Kansas, to George and Bertha Hodson. Her father became a park ranger and was assigned to Glacier National Park. This is where Ruth, her two sisters and brother first gained a love for the mountains, as they spent most of their childhood years there.
After working in Washington, D.C. as a Secretary in the Senators’ Offices and in Chicago as the Administrative Secretary for the U.S. Attorney General, she was drawn back to the mountains. In 1944, she moved to Estes Park where her folks lived. Her dad was a park ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park. Ruth worked for the Bureau of Reclamation. She met Frank McGraw and they were married on June 10th, 1946, at St. Malo’s Catholic Church.
Frank and Ruth raised five daughters – Sally, Frances, Anne, Ruthie and Cathy at the McGraw Guest Ranch. Initially, they owned and operated the livery at the ranch running 70 head of horses and 200 head of white-faced Herefords. Frank and Ruth took over the total operation of the guest ranch in 1955, when Frank’s mother retired. They ran the ranch as a family vacation retreat, using their slogan “Roughin’ it With Ease,” until it was sold in 1970. In 1973, they came out of retirement and operated the ranch for the new owners until 1980 when they retired for good. The McGraw Ranch is now owned by Rocky Mountain National Park and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
Ruth was actively involved in the Estes Park community. She was a member of Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church since its inception, where she participated in the Guild and the Altar and Rosary Society; she started their first Stephen Ministry Program and made over 1500 mission rosaries. She served on the Library Foundation Board, the Elizabeth Knutsson Foundation Board and was active in the Elizabeth Guild. She was also an active member of PEO, the Woman’s Club and PTA. Ruth was a 45 year member of the Estes Park Quota Club and chaired the Ambulance Fund Raising Drives for many years.
Ruth loved adventure. She rode her horse, Ben, all over Rocky Mountain National Park until she was 83. Her riding days only ended at that time because her horse wore out. She was a founding member of the Trailmasters Hiking Group and summitted many 14,000’ peaks as she logged literally thousands of miles. Along the trails she always took time to enjoy the wildflowers and the wildlife. Ruth took up cross-country skiing at 60, down-hill skiing at 70, along with snowshoeing, and continued climbing 14er’s into her 80s. She thrilled in sharing her love for nature with her family and friends. Her grandchildren will always cherish the horseback rides and fishing trips.
Ruth was a loving and caring wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother and an inspiring role model and mentor for her family and her friends. People played a large role in Ruth’s life and she had a special knack for being able to remember their names. She could always remember a good joke and loved a good story. One of her favorite stories was her ability to go dancing at the Dark Horse with Frank, following a day spent climbing Longs Peak by the cable route!
Another one of Ruth’s loves was spending time playing games with friends and family, including penny ante poker. While living at Good Samaritan Village, she still enjoyed playing bridge, bingo and “village trains,” as well as trick or treating, concerts and going on bus trips.
As one of her friends commented, “She has been a gentle, yet bright light in the lives of the people she touched. She has been a humble servant of God.” For many family members, she will always be considered their “hero.”
She is survived by her daughters Frances and her husband, Jay; Anne and her husband, Tom; Cathy and her husband, Frank; and Sally’s husband Al. Ruth loved her grandchildren – Tony Blandin and his wife, Rachel; Terri Dale; David Roberts and his wife, Nancy; Melissa Roberts and her husband Tim Roemer; and Frank Roberts. Ruth was also fortunate to have five great grandchildren: Matthew and Ashley; Leah; and Anna and Oliver.
Ruth was preceded in death by her husband, Frank, in 1983; her daughter, Sally, in 2002; and her daughter, Ruthie, in 2010 and her parents and her siblings, Louise, George and Sally.
A Rosary was said for Ruth at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church on Thursday, December 2nd, 2010.
Ruth’s Funeral Mass will be held Friday, December 3rd, at 10:00 a.m., at Our Lady of the Mountains, with a light lunch to follow. There will be a private internment following the luncheon.
Memorial contributions may be made to Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 1706, Estes Park, CO 80517 or to the Estes Park Quota Club Loan Closet, P.O. Box 1273, Estes Park, CO 80517. Friends and family may view the obituary and leave condolences at: www.kibbeyfishburn.com.