July 28, 1916 - September 16, 2018
Ruth Maxine Boyles Petrasso
July 28, 1916-September 16, 2018
Ruth was born to Mabel and Joseph Boyles in Toledo, Washington, on July 28, 1916. The fourth of six siblings, she adored her brothers and sisters: Robert, Norman, Helen, Grace, and Joseph. Although a tomboy at heart, her parents, being musical, recognized that Ruth had a special talent for music, and provided her with violin lessons at an early age. At the age of 12, Ruth and family moved to Forest Grove, Oregon, home of Pacific University, hoping that their children could attend college one day. These were difficult economic times, but Ruth’s parents managed to continue her violin lessons. She was very proficient on her beloved instrument, winning contests and performing at church and throughout the community. Ruth even played in the Pacific University College orchestra when she was a freshman in high school. As a high school senior, she studied in the Senior Violin Department at Pacific, and was then asked to teach the Junior Department of Violin. She accepted that challenge, and found herself as a freshman at the college with her tuition completely paid. It was in this way that Ruth worked her way through four years of college!
While in college, Ruth and her sister Grace attended many baseball games, as their family had always been baseball fans. She particularly enjoyed watching the catcher, David Petrasso, who was an accomplished athlete as well as a fine trumpet player whom she knew from the music department. Ruth and Dave had much in common, and married on June 7, one year after their graduation from college. (Grace married Dave’s best friend, teammate, and fellow musician, Howard Horner). Following their marriage, Ruth joined Dave in Aberdeen, Idaho, where he was teaching band and coaching. It immediately became known that Ruth and Dave were excellent musicians, and they were asked to perform at many church and social events throughout the town, where they made many lifelong friends. In June of l942, Ruth gave birth to Carol Ruth, the first of their four children. Ruth always claimed that baby Carol could match her pitch at two weeks of age.
During World War II, Ruth and Dave were forced to move to Portland so he could work in the Portland shipyards, and Richard David was born in December, 1945. After the war, the family moved to Estacada, Oregon, where Dave once again taught band, and Ruth taught private violin, viola, and piano lessons and led the Methodist Church Choir. Janet Jeanine was born in August, l948. Lorely Jean, born in July, l952, completed their family.
Dave’s career led him to West Linn and later Portland, where he was Director of Music at David Douglas High School. Ruth dedicated the bulk of her time to her husband and children, making sure each child was enrolled in music, dance, and art programs. She also encouraged other activities, such as athletics and Richard’s intense interest in science. During this time, she led a church choir and a mothers’ chorus while teaching private music lessons in her home.
In 1961, Ruth was asked to come to the Rockwood School District (later to become part of the Reynolds School District) to start an orchestra program. She was very successful, and the program continues today. When Dave became the founding director of the Mt. Hood Pops, Ruth played in the first violin section, sometimes serving as concertmistress. She and Dave continued in this endeavor for many years, even after their retirements.
Ruth was recently honored by the Mt. Hood Pops as an outstanding member of this group. In 2001, Ruth was also honored by Pacific University by being inducted into their Music Hall of Fame.
Following their retirements, Ruth and Dave moved to the home Dave built on the east fork of the Lewis River in Battleground, Washington. Ruth continued teaching privately and performing on the violin and piano (accompanying Dave). She loved entertaining friends and family at the river house, but especially enjoyed being with her and Dave’s families at special times. Today, family ties remain close, and Ruth’s legacy lives on in the lives of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and extended family.
After Dave’s death, Ruth moved back to Portland, continuing her church and musical activities. She volunteered her expertise, helping her daughters Janet and Lorely teach strings in the public schools, and was active in Cherry Park United Methodist Church. Her deep faith remained strong during Lorely’s two year battle with pancreatic cancer, and she was a role model for all of us.
Ruth had thousands of students over the years, and many of them, including her own children and grandchildren, have gone on to professional music careers. She was proud of all her students and knew that music would enrich their lives. This is the legacy that she left each of us: a love of church, friends, and family; and a never ending passion for music.
Ruth is survived by daughters Carol Taylor (Robert d.) and Janet Craswell (William), son, Richard Petrasso, grandchildren Kimberly King (Jerry), Darin Qualls (Tony Davis), Matthew Zgonc, Nathan Zgonc (Karen), Heather Raschko (Michael), Brandon Craswell (Hannah), Sara Petrasso (Jonah Crane), and Julia Petrasso (Wayne Conner), and 11 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her siblings, husband, David Petrasso, and daughter, Lorely Zgonc.
A service of celebration will be held at 2:00 pm on Saturday, November 3, at Gresham United Methodist Church, 620 NW 8th St. Gresham, Or. 97030.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – pancan.org
Alzheimers Research – support.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/donate
Mt. Hood Pops – squareup.com/store/mt-hood-pops-orchestras