Ruth Sells
Jan. 25, 1923 — Jan. 15, 2018

Ruth SellsRuth Sells, a prominent matriarch in Waukesha County, passed away on Monday, January 15, 2018, 10 days before her 95th birthday. Well-known as a community leader and volunteer, Ruth retired in 1988 after 23 years as human resources director at Waukesha Bearings Corporation. There she had been the first Wisconsin female executive to ever serve as a lead negotiator in union contract negotiations with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), previously an all-male activity.

Ms. Sells had a longtime interest in education, first serving as president of the Waukesha PTA Council and then appointed to the WCTC Advisory Committee in 1972. Two years later, she was appointed to the Waukesha Area Board for Vocational, Technical and Adult Education, placing her on the WCTC District Board that provides governance for WCTC representing an area including Waukesha, Dodge, Jefferson and Racine counties. Ruth served on the WCTC board for 14 years and was president of the District Board in 1984-85. She still served on the WCTC Foundation Board at the time of her death. She was also an earlier member of the Practical Nurse’s Advisory Board, the WCTC Student Advisory Board, and the Private Industry Council, an 18member panel of business and industry professionals charged with vocational and technical education policy-making in Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties.

Ms. Sells was born in Edgerton on January 25, 1923. After graduating as valedictorian from Stoughton High School, she enrolled in 1941 as a scholarship student at Carroll University in Waukesha and later held jobs with the Waukesha Music Center, Borden’s, the Waukesha State Bank, and the startup New Berlin State Bank, where she was cashier. She joined Waukesha Bearings as its general accountant and office manager in 1965.

Ruth had served on the Waukesha Memorial Hospital Foundation Board from 1981 to 1991 and has held numerous volunteer roles as an active member of First United Methodist Church, where she was serving on the Church & Society Committee at the time of her death.

A member and later president of the Altrusa Club, Ruth did volunteer work for the United Way, the Girl Scouts, and served on the personnel committee for the Christoph Memorial YWCA. She was a member of the Finer Waukesha Committee and co-coordinated the first Waukesha County Career Expo in 1985. Beyond contributing to her community, her favorite life activities included spending time with family and friends, music, gardening, travel and cheering on the Brewers and Packers.

Ms. Sells was honored by the Christoph YWCA as “Woman of Distinction” in 1986 and twice received the WCTC Citizen of Service Award in 1987 and 1993. She was presented with an honorary Associate of Applied Science degree by WCTC in 2012 in recognition of over 40 years of service to the college, the first time WCTC ever awarded such an honorary degree.

Ruth is survived by children David (Diana) Sells, Allen Sells, and Janet (David) Morris. Her grandchildren are Jeremy, Joanna, Craig, Andrea, Kirk, Jason and Matt with great-grandchildren Tatum, Chloe, Reagan, Sebastian and Kennedy.

Ruth was preceded in death by her husband, Oliver, and two sisters, Helen Basel and Jane Hathaway.

The visitation for Ruth will be held from 9:30 a.m. until the time of the memorial service at 11 a.m. on Friday, January 26, at the First United Methodist Church, 121 Wisconsin Ave., Waukesha, WI 53186. The Rev. Dan Schwerin will be officiating.

The family requests a gift in lieu of flowers be made to the WCTC Foundation-Oliver and Ruth O. Sells Endowment Scholarship Fund for Nursing, 800 Main St., Pewaukee, WI 53072, or to First United Methodist Church (see address above).

Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, Cremation and Pre-Planning Services is serving the family. For further information, please call 262-5426609, or for directions, an online obituary, or to leave a condolence, please visit