The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ruth J. Zerbst


February 21, 2018

IRONWOOD, Mich. - Ruth J. Zerbst, 81, of Ironwood, passed away on Feb. 19, 2018, after a short illness.

Ruth was born on May 29, 1936, in Ironwood to Matt and Sylvia (Niemi) Johnson. She was a graduate of Luther L. Wright High School.

Ruth participated in many pageants and contests in Gogebic County before marriage and held numerous titles, including Blueberry Queen, Potato Queen, Dairy Princess and Miss Gogebic County.

On Feb. 22, 1957, she married Donald Zerbst in Ironwood, and he preceded her in death on Nov. 20, 2016. Ruth was a lifelong resident of Erwin Township until suffering a massive stroke in July of 2013, when she then was in the care of Westgate Nursing Facility in Ironwood. Ruth and Donald immensely enjoyed their life at their home in Erwin Township. They loved taking care of their extensive lawn and feeding the wildlife.

Ruth's most important job was as a homemaker and mother. She was also known for her hand-loomed rugs. Ruth worked outside her home at K.P. Silberg School in Erwin as a secretary as well as Munsingwear and Jacquart's in Ironwood as a sewing machine operator.

Ruth was an excellent seamstress and baker. She made homemade rag rugs of painstaking perfection. Her baked goods could never be made quite the same way she did, such as apple bars, chocolate cake, walnut roll, homemade candies and more. Some of her rugs were sent by Michigan State University Extension to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. to be put on display with a Finnish American exhibit. She was also featured in a book written by M.S.U. staff about her rugs, looms and techniques.

She was also a longtime member of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ironwood.

She will be sadly missed by daughter, Donna (Michael) Wiemeri of Ironwood; son, Brian Zerbst of Ironwood; granddaughter, Carolyn (Brian) Bennetts; and her very special little great-granddaughter, Abby Ruth Bennetts of Ironwood. She is also survived by two brothers, Robert (Billie) Johnson of Lakewood, Wash., and Kelly (Sheila) Johnson of Butler, Ill .; three sisters, Helen (Bernard) Finco Sr. of Ironwood, Edna (Raymond) Karvonen of Bonifay, Fla., and Joyce Frierdich of Racine, Wis .; brother-in-law, Mike Zerbst of Houghton; and sisters-in-law, Beth Zerbst of Houghton, and Gloria Johnson of Waupun, Wis .; as well as many other relatives and friends

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Donald; her brother, Roy Johnson; and an infant sister, Carolyn Johnson; and brother-in-law, John Frierdich.

At Ruth's request, no funeral services will be held. Private interment will take place in the spring at Riverside Cemetery of Ironwood.

Ruth's family would like to thank the staff of Westgate Nursing Home of Ironwood for their care, compassion and love for Ruth during her time there. They all became a close part of her family, and made sure she got the best care she possibly could. We will be forever grateful.

McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home, Ironwood will be assisting the family.

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