Ruth Elisabeth Nelson Stanford was a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend who loved to create, cook and tell stories of her colorful life and family. Ruth passed away on August 23, 2023, at the age of 91, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with a sharp mind and unbelievable recall of her life.
Ruth was a lifelong resident of Southeast Texas, born in Hankamer on 12-20-1931 to Katheryne Agnes Paschal McNeir Nelson and Charles Martin “Jake” Nelson, Jr. She lived in the Galveston-Houston area for most of her childhood around a large extended family of Nelson’s and McNeir’s.
Ruth married Bennie V Stanford (deceased 1989) in 1951. They were married for 37 years. Ruth had 5 children, Janet Elisabeth, Andrea Jeneane (deceased 2017), Nelson Alan, Michael (stillborn twin of Alan) and Laurie Denise. Bennie and Ruth settled in Woodville, Texas in 1959, where her family home of 64 years remains.
Ruth worked hard to create a stable home she did not have in her childhood and their home became a safe resting place for numerous family members over the years. She was very active in her community as a highly recognized 4-H Leader, Officer of Texas Federation of Women’s Club, Local Heritage Club which she helped found, Creative Director of Dogwood Festival Stage and 2-time Tyler County Democratic Delegate to the State of Texas. Ruth was a longtime member of the First United Methodist Church of Woodville where she enjoyed singing in the choir.
After raising her family, Ruth started her working career in 1979 when Bennie retired. She worked in the Census and Oil industry as a surveyor and Party Manager. In 1991, Ruth went back to school at the age of 59 to Houston Community College where she graduated in 1993 with honors as a Physical Therapy Assistant. She worked as a traveler for 8 years around the country before going to work in New Mexico for Southwest Sport and Spine Center. She retired in 2004 at the age of 73.
Ruth’s husband Bennie V Stanford preceded her in death in 1989, her daughter Andrea Jeneane Stanford Jarvis in 2017, her granddaughter Edith Elisabeth Shirk Melton in 2020, as well as sisters Susan Roberts Nevils, Marcia Kay Nelson, Mary Edith Nelson Scott (Wicki). Ruth is the last of the Bennie Stanford family generation of ten children and spouses.
She is survived by daughter Janet Stanford Deems, husband David of Baytown, TX, Nelson Alan Stanford of Woodville, TX and daughter Laurie Denise Stanford Campbell, husband John of Las Cruces, NM, as well as her sister Margaret Anne Roberts Benge and JoAnne Stuart Pate.
Ruth was an extremely talented seamstress, photographer, and storyteller. She was very proud of her Cherokee Ancestry through Major Ridge, her third Great Grandfather. Her tremendous legacy will live on though her 10 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and 5 great-great grandchildren.
Friends are invited to visit with the family, beginning at 10am, on Sunday, August 27, 2023, in the chapel of Sterling Funeral Home. The family will celebrate Ruth’s life at 11am at the funeral home with John W. Campbell as the Master of Ceremonies and a reception to follow. A graveside service and committal will follow in McNeir Cemetery in Smith Point, Texas.