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Ruth Hellyer

Ruth (Holaday) Hellyer, 81, passed away on November 28, 2022. A visitation will be held at Immanuel United Methodist Church, located on 2900 49th St, Des Moines, IA 50310, on Monday, December 5, 2022, from 5 to 7 PM. A service will be held at Immanuel United Methodist Church on Tuesday, December 6, at 10 AM. Burial will follow at Chapel Hill Cemetery in Des Moines, IA. Ruth’s family invites all attendees to join them for a luncheon following at Immanuel United Methodist Church. For those unable to attend Ruth's service, her family invites you to join them electronically via Facebook at:

Ruth Elaine Holaday was born to Clifford and Reba (King) Holaday on April 29, 1941, at home in Massena, Iowa. She was the second youngest of 7 children. She was baptized and confirmed at Pine Grove Methodist Church in rural Massena, the beginning of a lifelong faith and love of Jesus. She started elementary school in a one-room schoolhouse in Massena Township, then graduated from C & M Community High School in Cumberland in 1959. She obtained degrees in science education from Drake University – Bachelor’s with Honors in 1963, and Master’s in 1973. She was one of only two women in the Science Department at Drake during her undergraduate years. Upon graduating from Drake, Ruth started teaching science at Harding Junior High in Des Moines.

On October 18, 1968, Ruth married Leo Hellyer, whom she had met by chance when she was having car trouble and he stopped to help. Their daughter Dawn was born on October 30, 1971, at which point Ruth stepped away from teaching to be the most wonderful mother that Dawn could have asked for. As a mother, she instilled Dawn with the belief that everything is fixable and there is always more than one way to find a solution to a problem; and she modeled the importance of education, of volunteering, and of living out your faith in action.

When Leo died in 1986, Ruth returned to teaching science, this time at Meredith Middle School in Des Moines. As a teacher, Ruth never allowed a child to fail – if they weren’t learning, that just meant that she needed to keep looking for another way to engage with them. Whether in the classroom or through out-of-the-classroom experiences like Iowa State University’s Science Bound program, she worked tirelessly to make a difference in the life of every student that came her way.

When her first grandchild was born in 2001, Ruth retired from teaching so that she could focus her time on being a grandmother and volunteering. As a grandmother, she was loving and ever-present. She is quite nearly the only babysitter that Peter, William and Kate ever knew, and she loved spending time with them – whether that was playing with blocks and reading books when they were toddlers or watching Marvel movies together when they were teenagers. She attended countless grandchildren’s sporting events, dance recitals, and band/choir concerts; and she swelled with pride at every accomplishment, large or small.

Ruth’s volunteer pursuits included spending time in her grandchildren’s classrooms in the Urbandale schools, but also extended far beyond that. Almost all of her volunteer endeavors involved continuing to teach in some way – Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, Whiz Kids, Science Center of Iowa, Urbandale Community Action Network, individual tutoring, and more. A long-time member of Immanuel United Methodist Church in Des Moines, she also put her faith into action through church mission trips, Bible study groups, and starting a prayer shawl ministry.

Ruth was herself a lifelong learner. She was intensely curious and loved to read and to travel. She enjoyed gardening, sewing/knitting, and birdwatching. She also enjoyed getting together with other retired teacher friends and her Red Hat group.

Ruth is preceded in death by her husband, Leo Hellyer; her parents, Clifford and Reba (King) Holaday; and her siblings Dorothy (Holaday) Bonnesen, Gail Holaday, Henry “Hank” Holaday, Varel Holaday, Marge (Holaday) Eblen, and Gary Holaday.

Ruth is survived by her daughter, Dawn (Scott) Schumacher of Urbandale; grandchildren Peter (21), William (18), and Kate (15) of Urbandale; and stepsons Larry (Doris) Hellyer of Colorado Springs and Steve (Jeanine) Hellyer of Eugene, OR.

Memorial contributions can be addressed to Ruth’s family for later distribution. They will be used to support two of her great passions – youth programming at Immanuel United Methodist Church and the Urbandale High School Music Department.



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