Ruth Northey Johnson

Honored by:Keith N. Johnson
Brick location:PAVER:8  map

In September 1923 Ruth Northey left her farm home in Dickinson County to begin her adventure with Iowa State College as a freshman in Home Economics--Education. That initiative began an association with this institution which continues today .... 72 years later. She came by train from Milford with a large trunk. She lived in West Hall when there were no telephones, radios and rarely typewriters to break the silence of strictly enforced study hours. Lights were out at 10:30 P.M. unless a "light cut" had been pre-arranged (no more than four per term). Visits to home were not practical until the Christmas break. Ruth graduated with the Class of 1928 after having furloughed one year to earn her expenses. She accepted a teaching job at Johnston, Iowa in Home Economics at the 9 month rate of $140 per wages in that period.

In 1930 Ruth married an Iowa State graduate from the Class of 1929 and they started housekeeping in Winterset, Iowa where Leslie E. Johnson was a Smith-Hughes high school Agriculture teacher. By 1934 the family was back in Ames for summer school living in a tent city erected by the college adjacent to the college cemetery. In 1937 it was back to Ames again with her husband and two young sons for his PhD in genetics. Sunday afternoons spent sorting fruit flies by eye color as part of the thesis research remains a memory of Ames in those days.

As the wife of a college professor Ruth created homes and homesteads for her family during assignments at South Dakota State and the University of Nebraska. But it was with delight that she returned to this campus her alma mater in 1954 as the wife of the Department Head for Animal Science. Teas dinners buffets the lecture circuit as well as foreign assignments were welcome tasks as a part of the faculty family that brought the best minds in Agriculture to Iowa State University. Beef pituitary glands in the kitchen refrigerator or flowers to present to the visiting head of the Soviet Republic (Khruchev) .... these were part of the Iowa State involvement over the years.

Two children became graduates of ISU and her interests and involvement was extended... a campus YMCA sponsor a sewing class instructor for international student wives the subject of ISU research on gerontology. Iowa State University has truly been a force and a presence in her life!


Paver Inscription:

"Ruth Northey
Class of 1928
ISU- a Presence
In Her Life"