Wilma Rutten

Died: Fri., Jan. 19, 2018


Graveside Service

10:00 AM Sat., Feb. 10, 2018
Location: Helix Cemetery


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Wilma (Rees) Rutten, 93, of Pendleton passed away peacefully on January 19, 2018 in the loving company of her niece, Judy Donham.

Wilma was born on July 12, 1924 in Melrose, New Mexico to farmers Culbert and Monta (Weeks) Rees where she remembered living through the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.  Just months after Pearl Harbor she graduated from Melrose High School.  The following day she caught a ride to Southern California where she worked building airplanes for the air defense war effort.

After the war she traveled to New York, worked in Panama, and then relocated with her parents to Helix, Oregon in the vicinity of Rees family members.  She first worked at the Helix Grocery Store, then moved to Pendleton to become a Registered Nurse in the last graduating class at the St. Anthony Hospital Nursing School.  She was devoted to her profession for approximately 30 years.  She was often charge nurse of the 3 to 11 shift where the Emergency Room was her passion.  Wilma admired many of the Nuns who took her under their wing and taught her nursing skills not found in books.  Her career also kept her supplied with a multitude of jokes. 

In 1963, James Rutten visited every hospitalized person he knew -- trying to meet Wilma.  He courted her with midnight lunches after work, often at The Saddle.  Six months later they were married.  Their homey farmhouse was host to nurses, doctors, nuns, bird hunters, and family for holidays and casual gatherings.  Jim raised a few race horses and they enjoyed attending races at Portland Meadows.  Wilma would schedule her hospital vacation during harvest to cook for the hands.  Their 20-year partnership was harmonious and filled with respect.

When widowed in 1984, Wilma downsized gracefully -- moving to town, a picket fence, geraniums to tend and birds to feed.  She wouldn't leave her darling home or Pendleton for love nor money, until God called her name.

Wilma was preceded in death by her parents, husband, siblings; Reba Donham, Willy Rees, George Rees and Lorene Ratliff; and nephew George Donham.

She is survived by nieces Debra (Ratliff) Bunnell, Judy Donham, Amy (Rees) Smith; nephews David and Mark Rees; extended family; good friends and neighbors.

A Graveside Inurnment will be held at Helix Cemetary at 10:00 AM on Saturday, February 10, 2018.

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