Saturday, May 1, 2010

Aunt Ruth's HX

Ruth Langrehr Runge Yarbrough

Besides my own knowledge, my best resource for this history was from notes I had made
while on a visit with Luther and Carmen in 1989 and from several phone calls since then.
I also have some old letters that I gleaned little “bits and pieces”.
Aunt Ruth was born on the family farm near Parker, SD and graduated from Parker High
and later from Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, Illinois. She was a smart
lady with a sweet disposition. Her compassionate diplomacy attributed to her success in
her teaching career and she gained the reputation as being the family sweetheart. Her
first teaching position took her to Santa Monica, California. After that, still being
adventurous and always searching for betterment, she then took a teaching position in
New York City while also attending Hunter’s Teacher College, a municipal college in
She met and eventually married Francis Runge, a Lutheran minister on July 8, 1950 in
New York City. He was a brilliant man, a progressive thinker, interested in the theater,
and at some point had directed a Shakespearian play in NYC. Sometime after they were
married Uncle Francis accepted a call to a church in Willimantic, Ct. and it was there
where Luther and Phillip were born.
In 1956 or before, in searching for a warmer climate to ease Aunt Ruth’s tendency for
problematic bronchitis, the family settled in Hollywood, Florida. Uncle Francis did not
have a full time parish here but filled in at churches here and there where ever needed.
He also did salesman type jobs such as selling awnings. Aunt Ruth made jewelry; both
trying to make enough to live on.
In the spring of 1958 they moved to Covington, Louisiana where Uncle Francis was
offered a role in the movie, The King of Kings directed by Otto Preminger. The movie
production was delayed however. Meanwhile, Uncle Francis got established in a church
and when the movie project was again resumed he declined the role. It was an honor to
be sought after for this role but he felt obligated to the church and to his family. He loved
his boys and did fun things with them. In the summer of 1960, in the prime of his life,
tragedy struck when he drowned accidentally while swimming with his youngest son,
Phillip. Uncle Francis was only 42.
Aunt Ruth had gone back to teaching again in the fall of 1958 and after Uncle Francis’
death in 1960 she and the boys remained in Covington until 1970. Luther graduated from
Covington High in 1970 with high honors (#7 out of a class of several hundred).
On April 24, 1970 Aunt Ruth married a widower, James Yarbrough whom she met
through her pastor at church. By now she was 46, and Jim was 35, 11 years younger. He
had two girls, Beth born 2/15/62 and Melissa born 8/9/65. (Jim’s first wife had
committed suicide when Beth was in the second grade.) They soon moved to Santa Fe,
New Mexico where Aunt Ruth took a position teaching 5th grade starting the fall of 1970.
She loved teaching and by all indications she was very good at it. She didn’t just “make
it”. She excelled. Meanwhile Luther attended Louisiana State in New Orleans
completing 2 ½ years there. Jim was a geologist in oil drilling. He was involved with the
trade association and did some traveling associated with his profession. Aunt Ruth loved
and nurtured the girls as her own. Her life again seemed full and gratifying and she wrote
letters again more freely.
In 1972 Phil graduated salutatorian from the High School in Santa Fe. Four years later he
graduated from the Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah with a BS in Business
Communications (marketing). In 2008 he lived in Salt Lake City.
In October 1976 Aunt Ruth was forced to retire from teaching due to her health. The
doctors found an aneurysm in her brain. They did a relatively minor procedure that
alleviated symptoms but by March 31, 1978 she had brain surgery to treat it more
aggressively. This bought her more time for a relatively decent quality of life but on
August 21, 1980 she died suddenly when the aneurysm broke. Luther relates how they
had a wonderful day the day before she died and as she was talking she mentioned that
she saw angels in the room. The angels were there ready to take her to heaven. She was
only 57.
Years later Jim Yarbrough did marry again. He died in October 2002 from malaria that
he contracted in Zambia in Africa. He was a good man. Luther still stays in contact with
Beth and Melissa (especially with Melissa.) Luther still lives in Santa Fe, NM and has
been an insurance salesman since 1979.
Written by Mary Ann Andrews
7 Brierwood Court
Burnt Hills NY 12027
January 16, 2009

If you see any discrepancies or errors or can add anything, please let me know. Aunt
Ruth is one that I would have liked to have known better.

Luther Runge: Luther married Carmen Gonzales on 7/2/77. Carmen lost both
parents when she was quite young leaving her to care for her younger brother (Ralph) and
a sister. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother left him in the end. Luther and
Carmen had no children of their own but Carmen’s siblings are their family. Luther has
been an insurance salesman since 1979. We visited them in their home in 1989 and they
took us out to a very nice restaurant for dinner.
Their address:
Mr. & Mrs. Luther Runge Phone # 505-471-5451. e-mail
2431 Vereda de Encanto
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Phillip Runge never married. He’s had a variety of short term jobs. He was most
proud of being a fire fighter with a helicopter crew. At one time he did free lance writing
and in ’93 was a Public Relations Advertising Consultant in Salt Lake City. He has been
unemployed now for a long time and lives frugally in an apartment. He used to love to
ski but that has become too cost prohibited for him. He does enjoy hiking. Wayne and I
flew to Salt Lake City in June 2007 for the Rotary Convention. While Wayne was at a
Rotary gathering Phil and I met at the Family History Library. He was eager to help me
navigate the system there to research our grandfather Langrehr’s parents but we found no
new information. The following evening Wayne and I met him at a restaurant for dinner.
He carried a back pack with his computer hard drive that he uses at the library. After
dinner he took us on a tour of Salt Lake City walking and by using the “trax” (train). He
was very happy to show us around and we were happy to have our own personal tour
guide. He’s very comfortable using mass transit as his sole means of getting around.
His address:
Phillip Runge Phone # 801-831-9745
239 W. 600 North Apt 309
Salt Lake City, Utah 84103—1359
I have not had good luck with him responding to my mail. I had better luck calling him.

Love, Mary Ann


  1. I was a very close childhood friend of Luther in Covington & remember the tragedy when his Dad died. I remember how sweet his Mom was & she was very friendly to me. Thank you for posting this & I will contact Luther soon, but I sometimes find I have more poignant childhood recollections than others.
    Grant Cooper

  2. Belatedly, I want to thank you for responding, Grant. I welcome any additional comments you you would like to share about your experiences with Frances and Aunt Ruth and family.