Ruth Cattell Shadle

Honored by:James and Julie Shadle
Brick location:A:3  map

I have chosen to honor my mother-in-law, Ruth Cattell Shadle, one of the wisest and most interesting women I know, and she is self-taught! She has never lost her curiosity about science, people, geography... all of life.

Ruth was born February 28, 1908, in Seattle Washington, to Norman and Anna Larson Cattell. She considers Ames, Iowa, her hometown, however because by the age of four, when her mother died, Ruth, her younger brother, Clark, and her father returned to Iowa where both of her parents were from. Anna's family farmed in the Story City area, and her sister-in-law, Amelia Larson (she’ll be 98 this October), still lives there. Ruth’s Grandmother Cattell lived in Ames and helped to raise Ruth and her brother. Grandma Cattell had a rooming house for ISU students. It was located across the street from the old football practice fields on the west side of the campus. Ruth remembers listening to the interesting dinner conversations over the years.

When Clark had polio and was paralyzed from the waist down, Ruth became his caretaker. A few years later when Grandma Cattell retired and moved to Des Moines near a daughter, Clark and Ruth, who was in high school by this time, lived with their Aunt Naomi and her husband, Claire Taylor, who owned a farm one mile south of North Grant school on the Lincoln Highway between Ames and Nevada.

Ruth saved her money faithfully so she could attend college in Ames. After graduating from high school she worked for the telephone company and attended one year of college. When Ruth was ready to start her second year, the bank where her money was located was closed because the president had embezzled the funds. She never was able to recover the money and lost the opportunity to finish school. Clark lived in Ames all of his life and worked for the State Highway Commission.

Ruth continued to work in Ames until she married Dale Alden Shadle on January 25, 1936. Dale with a B.S. in Agronomy ’32, spent his career working for the Soil Conservation Service. They first lived in Knoxville, and then in Marion where their first child, James Norman Shadle was born in 1940.

From Marion they moved to Elkader and lived in a large home that housed three families. Dale, Ruth, and Jim had the first floor. Durward and Gertrude Skully shared the second floor with the landlady, Mrs. Poole. Interestingly enough, this past summer Jim took his mom to visit Gertrude, and they toured the home they had shared. It is now the funeral home in Elkader and much of the original structure is unchanged in the 50 years since they lived there. Since it was wartime many of the men were gone, including some of the teachers and coaches. Dale coached the football team one year. He had been an outstanding athlete during his college years at Drake and at Iowa State. The depression caused him to give up his days as a professional baseball player for the security of a permanent position with the government.

The next move was to Eldora. It was here that their second child, Julie, now Julie Shadle Snyder, was born in 1946. Ruth was a woman who devoted her time to her home and her family. She was a den mother, brownie scout leader, Sunday school teacher, to name a few of her activities. She read to her children at length and this helps explain her children’s continued interest in reading and learning. I’m sure this was also an expansion of Ruth's knowledge too. In later years she has also shared this love of learning with her five grandchildren Stacy, Stephanie, and Eric Shadle, and Daniel and David Snyder.

Dale, Ruth, and Julie, moved to Iowa City in 1958 when Jim was off to Iowa State to earn a B.S. degree in Forestry '62.

After retiring in 1972, Dale and Ruth continued to live in Iowa City for a few years. Julie attended the U of I and graduated in Speech Pathology. I’m sure that Ruth was especially proud to see her children complete what she had always hoped to accomplish herself. Though she has no formal degree she is every bit as well-read as most college graduates.

Since Dale’s death in 1983, Ruth has divided her time between Eldora and Mesa, Arizona. She is a member of the Congregational Church in Eldora, and Eastern Star and is a past member of Alpha Club, a women's book club, and the Iowa State Conservation Wives. She enjoys reading, crafts and gardening. To celebrate her 80th birthday, Ruth joined an Educational Opportunities Tour to the Holy Land, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Her family and friends have enjoyed tales of her adventures.

A heroine isn't necessarily well known, or even possessing a lengthy list of public achievements. A heroine does not always have a list of academic accomplishments, degrees or honors. Ruth Shadle is a heroine who insisted that her children have the highest moral and ethical standards possible. She not only acceded to requests to be allowed to engage in an activity or travel somewhere, she supported and participated; always teaching and always learning. She could help her son skin his first squirrel, and her daughter make s’mores - almost simultaneously, or so it seemed. Heroines leave a legacy of who they are, and Ruth Shadle’s legacy is one of well-educated, well-read, curious, contributing children and grandchildren.

Lovingly presented by
Julie Myers Shadle
January 1995