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Ruth Balbach Williams Higby 1923-2017

Ruth Higby, 93, passed away in her sleep Feb. 27 in a care facility in Boise, Idaho.

Ruth was born to Richard Balbach and Helen (Sniegon) Balbach July 12, 1923, in New Meadows, Idaho.  She was the eldest of four children.

After graduating from Meadows Valley High School in 1943, Ruth married John E. Williams.  After John enlisted in the Army, Ruth followed him to Army training camps until he was sent to serve in the war. While John was on leave in the summer of 1945, he saw his first-born son, Johnny, for the first time. After the war, John worked as a logger in Northern Idaho until he moved his family to Hines in 1947. There, he went to work for the Edward Hines Sawmill “pulling green chain.”

In the spring of 1948, their second child, Linda, was born. Shortly after Linda’s birth, John and Ruth purchased property on the west edge of Burns and started building their new home. John had never built a home before, so he checked books out from the library on carpentry, plumbing, and electrical wiring. By reading the books and “learning as he went,” a cozy two-bedroom house stood and is still standing today. Several years later, they built another two-bedroom home which was used as a rental to supplement their income. That house is also still standing.

In 1951, John and Ruth’s last child was born. Claude Robert, better known as Bob, completed their family.

Ruth loved her flower gardens, fishing and camping, but most of all, her artwork. She was a natural artist and won many first place and Best of Show ribbons for her artwork at the Harney County Fair.

The summer of 1963, the family sold their property and moved to Meridian, Idaho. Shortly after their move, John and Ruth divorced. Ruth worked as a housekeeper to provide for the family. The next two years were rough ones, as she lost one of her brothers to cancer and her oldest son, Johnny, was in a terrible car accident. After two months in the hospital, Johnny was released wearing a full body cast. He had to remain in the cast for six months.

In 1965, Ruth married Jack Higby of McCall, Idaho, who worked as a forest ranger for the Payette National Forest. Jack, Ruth, Johnny, Linda, Bob and various pets moved to McCall. After marrying Jack, Ruth had many wonderful and exciting experiences working and living in such areas as Chamberlain Basin and Big Creek Ranger Station. She and Jack were avid fishermen and fished 12 months out of the year when they could. Each summer, Ruth would close the house in McCall, pack the truck with supplies, and head to the “back country” with Jack.

Ruth seemed to adapt well to the “semi-primitive” living conditions of the “back country.” She loved her times spent helping Jack, fishing, riding horses, camping, painting the wild flowers and scenery of the areas, visiting with other rangers’ wives and visitors who came to the stations.

She also loved spending time with her youngest son and his family, and visiting with her brother and his family who lived in New Meadows. She and her sister, Hilde, spent many happy hours doing artwork together and visiting.

After Jack’s death in 1978, Ruth remained in her home in McCall. She sold many of her painted pieces through The Heart to Heart Art Shop in McCall and was one of its original founding members.

She and one of Jack’s cousins traveled to many Western U.S. states, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and the Fiji Islands. They had many fun times and experiences to share with their families.

Ruth remained in her own home with the help of her son, Bob, for many years until poor health and the hard winters in McCall, prompted her to move to an assisted living center in Boise. There, she was closer to her sister and several of her grandchildren. After the death of her son, Bob, on Oct 20, 2016, her health deteriorated drastically.

Ruth is survived by her sister, Hilde Marrs of Boise; her oldest son, John Williams of Boise; daughter, Linda (Ron) Whiting of Burns; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents; two brothers; one sister-in-law; two husbands; and her son, Bob.

At Ruth’s request, no services will be held. There will be a family gathering later in the year in McCall and New Meadows. Arrangements were under the direction of Bowman Funeral Home in Boise.

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