Cover photo for Ruth Elizabeth Francis's Obituary
Ruth Elizabeth Francis Profile Photo

Ruth Elizabeth Francis

d. November 19, 2017

May 17, 1922 ~ November 19, 2017


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

3:00 – 8:00 PM

Burmeister-Johannsen Funeral Home

Harlan, IA

(get directions)

The family will greet friends from 5:00 – 6:00 PM at the Funeral Home.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

10:30 AM

First United Methodist Church

Harlan, IA

(get directions)

Burial will be in Harlan Cemetery, Harlan, IA


1 Daughter – Sandra (Ken) McGraw of Harlan, IA

5 Grandchildren

9 Great-grandchildren

1 Step-great-grandchild

5 Great-great-grandchildren

5 Step-great-great-grandchildren

Other Relatives & Friends

Ruth Elizabeth (Fielder) Francis, daughter of Samuel Boyd Fielder and Edith Clark (Delp) Fielder, was born on May 17, 1922, on a farm near Spring Valley, Virginia. She graduated from Bel Air (Maryland) High School in 1940. Following graduation, Ruth worked for the government as a gas mask inspector at Aberdeen (MD) Proving Ground.

On November 30, 1940, Ruth and Wylie Winton Francis were married in Havre de Grace, Maryland. The couple lived in Maryland and Pennsylvania. In 1946, the couple decided to move to California but were caught in a blizzard and chose to settle in Nebraska, where they had relatives. In 1952, Ruth and Wylie moved to Iowa, first living near Tennant, then Shelby, and finally settling in Harlan in 1962.

Ruth worked at Farners Dept. Store for many years. She was a longtime member of the First United Methodist Church in Harlan, where she was active working on many committees. She liked to raise flowers; roses were her favorite. She and Wylie raised a large garden, and Ruth enjoyed sharing the bounty with friends and family. She also enjoyed entering produce, baked goods, and canned foods in the Shelby County Fair, where she won many ribbons.

Ruth E. Francis died on Sunday, November 19, 2017, at Avoca Specialty Care in Avoca, Iowa. She had reached the age of 95 years, 6 months, and 2 days.

Ruth was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Wylie Winton Francis, on March 15, 2010; and two brothers. She is survived by one daughter, Sandra (Ken) McGraw of Harlan, Iowa; five grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; two step-great-grandchildren; five great-great-grandchildren; five step-great-great-grandchildren; and many relatives and friends.

The funeral service was held on Wednesday, November 22, 2017, at the First United Methodist Church in Harlan, Iowa, with Pastor Mike Agnew officiating. Sharon Davidson and Sharon Donlin served as the musicians. Casket bearers were Bill Barrett, Frank Paul, Daniel Cartier, Jimmy Thielen, Dan Haseltine, and Leland Kaufmann. Burial was in the Harlan Cemetery, Harlan, Iowa. The Burmeister-Johannsen Funeral Home in Harlan, Iowa, was in charge of the arrangements. Condolences may be left online at
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