Ruth Feyerherm

Honored by:Ann E. Feyerherm
Brick location:C:7  map

Ruth Feyerherm was born Ruth Brown on June 6, 1917 in Seymour, Iowa to her parents, Jennie and John Brown. Her earliest years were spent in this rural community on the family farm playing with cousins and feeding chickens, snapping beans for canning, and such other chores that came with the lifestyle. Her two brothers, Emmett and Ralph, were considerably older than she and were married when she was quite young. During the Depression when Ruth was just 17, her father died, dashing hopes for furthering her education by going to college that next year. During those years, a young woman could teach in a country school after graduating from high school. Ruth landed a job teaching near Seymour and her first class consisted of five rowdy boys in a one-room school house. The family farm was lost, and Ruth and her mother reluctantly moved to town. During these years, her nephew Dick became more like a brother and used to take care of her mother, Jennie, when Ruth would go out on dates.

With perseverance and the desire to go beyond Seymour, Ruth decided to go to college so that she could get better teaching jobs. An academic scholarship helped her attend Simpson College, where she received a two-year certificate. This was enough to gain her a junior high teaching position at Seymour and then Madrid, Iowa. After three years, she realized that this, too, was not enough. Aided by a PEO loan, Ruth enrolled at Iowa State University (Iowa State College at that time) and majored in Home Economics. It was there that she met her future husband, Harvey Feyerherm. He was a handsome teaching assistant in a required biology course. They were married on January 17, 1944 when she was teaching at Harlan and he was serving in the Army. She had received her degree in August 1943.

The years that followed were difficult, with Harvey serving in Europe during World War II and Ruth teaching Home Economics in Rockford, Illinois. However, good fortune was to follow them back to Ames, Iowa, where they enjoyed the birth of their first son, William Harvey, on November 26, 1949, and Harvey finished his PhD. They then moved to DeKalb, Illinois, leaving behind wonderful memories in Ames where Harvey took a teaching position. This was followed by the birth of their only daughter, Ann Elizabeth, on April 13, 1951. It was only when Ann decided to follow her parent's footsteps and attend Iowa State University that Ruth finally returned to Ames for a visit.

The years in DeKalb were full of busy times for Ruth. Besides raising two children, she became active in the University Women's Club, serving many offices including the president. She was also active in the First Congregational Church and the DeKalb County Home Economists. She and Harvey also were co-presidents of the PTA and she was a den mother for Cub Scouts. During 1960, the family traveled to Iowa City, Iowa, for Harvey's one-year sabbatical. It was there that another son, James Frederick, was born on February 3. Upon returning to DeKalb, she resumed many of her activities. The ensuing years saw her two eldest be involved in high school activities and attending college; Bill went to Northern Illinois University and Ann to Iowa State University. Bill got married in March 1969 to Sandra Johnson and subsequently had two daughters: Jennifer Ann (born November 4 1970) and Jill Suzanne (born May 5 1974).

Sadness struck her life with the death of her husband on September 24, 1973. While a difficult time, she had a son to raise since he was only a young teenager at the time. They forged a bond and made it through. It was also at this time that Ruth went to work outside the home. She found a place as a nursery school teacher at The Growing Place in 1974. With the three-year-olds to keep her young, she still serves as a long-standing favorite teacher. She is known as Miss Ruth and has given her gift of love and discipline to more than 400 children. The honor of "Early Childhood Professional of the Year" was awarded to her in 1991 by the Northern Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children (NIAEYC). In addition she has two more granddaughters from her son Jim and his wife Nancy; Amy Lynne (born February 23, 1985) and Lesley Ann (born November 31, 1987).

Throughout her life, Ruth has served as a friend, a confidant and an inspiration to those who have known her. She is a wise woman, possessing an inner strength built from sadness and disappointment. Her intelligence and perceptiveness are gifts that she shares with many people and is a dispenser of sound advice to parents and children. Remaining active and curious in what some would consider retirement years offers a model for others to follow. She travels to Europe, Canada, Mexico and Africa, as well as extensively in the United States. This is done during the summer breaks from her busy teaching schedule. It is with great pleasure that I add her name to the Iowa State University Plaza of Heroines as a graduate who has distinguished herself and this institution by being a woman of strength and grace. I am fortunate to have her as my mother.