Ruth Romaine Van Haitsma
April 21, 1925 ó July 29, 2015
Ruth Romaine Van Haitsma was born to Grace and Nicholas Ralph Romaine, the third of three children, in Teaneck, New Jersey, on April 21, 1925.
She graduated from Rutgers University and interned as a dietician at Scripps Metabolic Institute in La Jolla, California. She worked for three years at a veterans hospital in White River Junction in Vermont before earning a masterís degree in nutrition from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She accepted a three-year appointment as a dietician at a Presbyterian mission hospital in Asyut, Egypt. At the time, her fiance, Glenn Van Haitsma, was serving in a U.S. State Department Refugee Relief Program in post-war Germany. Their courtship included a kiss while sitting on a paw of the Sphinx. Ruth and Glenn married in Frutigen, Switzerland, and began married life in Hamburg Germany. The couple returned to the U.S. where Glenn taught English at Syracuse University and Ruth worked in the university food service and mothered her first child, Susan. In 1958, they moved to Waukesha, where Glenn taught English at Carroll College for 35 years and Ruth had three more children: Martha, Sara and Daniel. Ruth also found time to teach at Gray Mare Nursery for many years and to earn reaccreditation as a registered dietician.
She served as a dietician at Woodlands Nursing Home, Virginia Nursing Home and Avalon Manor. She also did some private consulting with weight-loss patients. She lived in Waukesha for 53 years, with the exception of two years spent abroad, one in Japan and one in China, where Glenn held teaching positions. In 2011, Ruth and Glenn moved to Freedom Village retirement center in Holland, Michigan. Ruth passed away in her home on July 29, 2015.
Ruth was active at First Presbyterian Church in Waukesha as both an elder and deacon, and in Church Women United. She was an advocate for peace and human rights throughout her life. In the community, Ruth was very involved in refugee resettlement for Vietnamese families and with Cuban boatlift refugees. Ruth helped start Hebron House, a Waukesha shelter for the homeless. She started a prisoner visitation program when the Milwaukee County womenís prison moved temporarily to Waukesha. She was active in the United Nations Association Waukesha chapter. She established the still-ongoing annual United Nations Association Traveling Film Festival at Carroll University in 2005 as a way to promote dialogue and peaceful ways of thinking about global human issues.
Ruth actively supported Ploughshare Fair Trade Marketplace, campaigning to get local churches to use fairtrade coffee for their events.
She would often fill the role of surrogate grandmother for neighborhood children: organizing a childís birthday party, taking children to the library or a museum, or spending one-on-one time with them. She wanted all Godís children to know love and attention.
Ruth is survived and will be dearly missed by her husband of 59 years, Glenn Van Haitsma; her children Susan (Jeff Webster), Martha (Gustavo Bamberger), Sara (Dean Wagner) and Daniel (Maryanne Karpiej Van Haitsma); her grandchildren, Aaron and Nathan Bamberger, and Emily and Abigail Van Haitsma; brother William Romaine; cousin Libby Hillegonds; inlaws Dale (Charlotte) Van Haitsma, Terry Van Haitsma and Carol (Dale Eding) De Korte; nieces and nephews; the Hoa and Van Truong family, including children Trang (Hao Dinh), Trinh (Albert Chang), Linh (Tom Chen), Hai (Regina) and Tim; and by many others.
Ruth was preceded in death by her parents and brother Benjamin Romaine.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Hospice of Holland, 270 Hoover Blvd., Holland, MI 49423. A memorial service will be held in the Chapel at Freedom Village, 145 Columbia Ave., Holland, MI, on Saturday, August 1, at 1:30 PM.
Yntema Funeral Home is serving the family. For more information, call 616-772-2173 or visit online at www.yntemafh.com.