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Dr. Ruth Ann Howe

March 4, 1930 ~ December 20, 2023 (age 93) 93 Years Old

Dr. Ruth Howe Obituary

Dr. Ruth Howe, 93, of Bemidji, MN died Wednesday, December 20, 2023 at Neilson Place, Bemidji.

Memorial Services will be 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 3, 2024 at the United Methodist Church, Bemidji. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church.

Ruth Howe was born on March 4, 1930 at Braham, MN to Roy and Myrtle (Hartkopf) Howe. She was the youngest of six children. When ruth was three years old the family moved to Brooklyn Center to a potato farm where her parents eventually started a fertilizer and insecticide company. In this rural setting, Ruth attended Brooklyn Center elementary school and the Brooklyn Center Methodist Church. Ruth attended and graduated from Robbinsdale High School in 1948. She went on to attend the University of Minnesota and received her B.S. degree in 1952 in Physical Education and Health and through further study her M.Ed. in 1957. She taught three years at Ely and two years in the Minnetonka School System prior to coming to Bemidji College in 1957. While at BSU she completed her Doctorate of Physical Education in 1968.

Ruth was initially hired at Bemidji State College to teach general physical education classes and Major students physical education, along with teaching grades 1-3 in the Laboratory School. She enjoyed working in the area of teacher preparation teaching both theory and methods classes. In 1959 Ruth felt honored to be inducted into Delta Kapp Gamma-MU chapter, an honorary education society. She felt blessed to be an active member of MU chapter.

Bemidji State College was a leader in implementing competitive sports for women, helping to develop conferences (Minnkota) and establishing competitive teams. Ruth’s coaching responsibilities included Women’s Basketball (1963-75), Women’s softball, (1969) and Women’s tennis (1975-86). She helped to implement basketball and volleyball workshops, chaired basketball and tennis conferences, was on the board (1972-75) and President of MAIAW (1974). As the first woman’s basketball coach at Bemidji State, she amassed a 95-50-1 record. Howe was inducted into the BSU Athletic Hall of Fame when she retired in 1986. She also was inducted into the NSIC Hall of Fame in 2003. As one of the founders for competitive women’s athletics programs Ruth received recognition for her accomplishments through receiving the BSU Pioneers Award (2000), NAGWS Pathfinders award (2000), and Special NGWSD Merit Award (2009).

The first year Ruth fell in love with the Bemidji community, the people, the landscape and the activities people enjoyed. She was introduced to the sport of curling, downhill skiing, hunting (partridge and deer), and golfing. It was through curling she met Merril Thiel who also enjoyed these activities, and 20 years later became her partner in marriage.

Ruth became engrossed in the sport of curling competing in numerous bonspiels, and the first state play down. She wrote her doctoral thesis of the Development of Curling in the United States. She taught curling classes at BSU and wrote a book for students called “So This Is Curling”. From 1989-91, she was on the United States Curling Association (USCA) board of directors and helped write the proposal to become an Olympic sport. In 2001, the women curlers honored here with a plaque for 45 years of service and representing them at bonspiels and organizational meetings.

Playing golf in the summer months at the Bemidji Town and Country Club was a pure joy. She enjoyed competing in the women’s league and at nearby golf tournaments while being a member of the Minnesota Women’s Golf Association. Upon retirement Ruth picked up playing bridge in the winter months, which she totally enjoyed.

Merril Thiel and Ruth Howe were married August 21, 1981 at the Bemidji United Methodist Church. Since that time, they have been supporting members and actively involved in the activities of the church. Their membership has truly been a blessing.

Although most of Ruth’s immediate family has preceded her in death, she has enjoyed a full life.

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January 3, 2024

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
Bemidji United Methodicst Church
9th & Beltrami Avenue
Bemidji, MN 56601

Memorial Service
January 3, 2024

2:00 PM
Bemidji United Methodicst Church
9th & Beltrami Avenue
Bemidji, MN 56601


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