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Ruth Jorgensen
A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Harvest Presbyterian Church in Ceres for Ruth Caswell Jorgensen, 95. The longtime former Ceres resident died on Feb. 8, 2012 at the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living in Danville from complications of Alzheimer's Disease.

Helen Ruth Caswell was born April 10, 1916 to Henry Caswell (1876-1949) and Annie Helen Cross Caswell (1878-1963) at their Vivian Road ranch, the third of four children, Earl, Mary, Ruth and Edith. Her grandparents Thomas and Mary Caswell were among the first to settle in Ceres and earn their living by farming.

Ruth attended Fairview Elementary School southwest of Modesto and graduated from Modesto High School, Modesto Junior College and from San Jose State College, cum laude, with a degree in Sociology. She returned to Stanislaus County in 1937 and worked for the county Welfare Department. Ruth met her future husband, civil engineer Homer Jorgensen at the Modesto Ski Club. The two were married in 1941 and had two children, Robert "Bob" and Joanne.

Ruth's most notable awards included: "Soroptimist Woman of Distinction" in 1985; "Ceres Citizen of the Year" in 1989; "Outstanding Woman in Stanislaus County" in 1992; and Soroptimist of the Decade in 1989.

Fifty years ago, Ruth was a founding member of Harvest Presbyterian Church in Ceres, along with her husband and others. She also served as trustee, elder and deacon in that congregation.

Ruth had memberships in many other organizations: Soroptimist International of Ceres, American Association for University Women (where she co-chaired the annual book sale for seven years to raise money for AAUW scholarships), DAR, Interfaith Ministries, Central California Art League, Ceres Western Art Show Board of Directors (17 years); Press and Publications Board of the McHenry Museum & Historical Society (where she wrote articles for Stepping Stones and Musings).

Ruth was a leader in organizing the first Ceres Historical Stroll, a fundraiser for cancer research. Along with Caryl Fowler, she co-wrote a tour guide called, "Town of Ceres: A Historical Stroll," featuring various historical buildings in Ceres.

She was instrumental in preserving the first house built in Ceres, the Daniel Whitmore House, getting it restored and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In establishing of Bob's Yuletide Forest in 1962, Ruth and husband, Homer, assisted their physically disabled son in developing a Choose-and-Cut Christmas Tree Farm business on the land adjacent to their home on a bluff overlooking the Tuolumne River. Homer, with assistance from Medrick Perra, built a small-gauge railroad train to encircle the forest.

As an oil painter, Ruth had a one-woman exhibit at the Central California Art League Gallery, "Memories of our Great Valley" in 1999. With her two talented sisters, Mary (watercolorist) and Edith (photographer), Ruth participated in "Three Sisters" art shows in a number of venues in Turlock and Modesto. She received numerous art awards, including Best of Show at Stanislaus County Fair and a Seniors Show in Modesto.

The traits most often mentioned in describing Ruth's impact were her optimism, friendliness, work ethic, perseverance and sense of humor. When awarded the Citizen of the Year for 1989, Gene Welsh praised Ruth as enthusiastic, dedicated, tireless, tenacious, perseverant, humble, devoted to her family, church and community.

She leaves behind her daughter, Joanne Jorgensen Perra and son-in-law, Mark Walter Perra of Danville; and her sister, Mary Olivia Caswell Bucknam of Modesto. She was preceded in death by husband, Homer William Jorgensen, son Robert Charles Jorgensen, brother Earl William Caswell and sister Edith Elaine Caswell Wheeler.

Remembrances may be sent to Harvest Presbyterian Church, 1813 Moffett Rd, Ceres CA 95307; or Joni and Friends International Disability Center, P.O. Box 3333, Agoura Hills CA 91376-3333; or Soroptimist International of Ceres, P.O. Box 395, Ceres CA 95307.

-Ceres Courier/ February 22, 2012