Ruth Clark loved children, and they loved her right back.
Mrs. Clark – Haysville’s first kindergarten teacher and the namesake of Ruth Clark Elementary School in Hasyville – died Thursday. She was 89.
A memorial service was scheduled for Tuesday morning at Haysville United Methodist Church.
“She loved to read, and she loved to read to children,” said her son, Bret Clark of Haysville. “She was just loving and humble and the kind of person who would light up around young children.”
Ruth Eileen Stearns was born Nov. 29, 1926, at Wesley Hospital in Wichita. She grew up in Haysville and attended East High School where she graduated as valedictorian in 1944.
Her father was Fred Stearns, who ran the Haysville State Bank.
“He wanted to expose her to a bigger environment and at that time, Haysville didn’t have a high school,” Bret Clark said. “She would ride a milk truck into Wichita to East High School, and he would pick her up each day when he would take the deposits to the First National Bank.”
Ruth Stearns then went to Friends University where, in 1948, she received her bachelor’s of science degree in elementary education. She also met and married her husband, Robert Clark.
He started a hardware store in Haysville, and they built a house. From their home in Haysville, she started a private kindergarten.
And later, when Haysville started kindergarten at the public school, she became the first kindergarten teacher at Nelson Elementary.
She taught at Nelson for 30 years and retired in 1986 when she went to work at the Haysville Community Library.
“She loved doing storytime,” Bret Clark said.
The Ruth Clark Elementary School in Haysville opened in 2000.
Mrs. Clark is survived by her sons, Mark Clark (Stacy) of Sterling, and Bret Clark (Ronda) of Haysville; daughter, Jane Moon (Howard) of The Villages, Fla.; sister, Betty Jane Turkle of Haysville; brother-in-law, Reagan Houston of Andersonville, S.C.; 11 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.
A memorial in Mrs. Clark’s name has been established with the Haysville United Methodist Church, 601 E. Grand, Haysville, KS 67060, or Haysville Community Library, 210 Hays Ave, Haysville, KS 67060.