Josephine Louise Ruth (Jonita) 88 years old passed on November 26, 2022 at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Josephine is preceded in death by her husband Fred Ruth, her parents Joseph and Josephine Erjavec and her sister Olga Ancel (Edward) and Millie Pucel (Rudy).
Josephine was an 83 yearlong resident of Joliet and was often referred to as the “Mayor of North Chicago Street”. She was especially dedicated to the Slovenian Woman’s Union, Branch #20 for nearly all of her life. As a young lady she was a member of their Senior and Championship cadet teams and for many years held the office position of Clerk at their National Headquarters in Joliet.
She was the caretaker of the Slovenian Heritage Museum and always made sure the display windows were interesting, colorful and drew the attention of the passersby. Jonita was responsible for obtaining funding from the City of Joliet for eight Slovenia murals painted on the viaduct walls near the SWU headquarters. She later succeeded in having that location officially declared by the city as “Slovenian Row”. Specially designed light pole flags were hung throughout the neighborhood further beautifying and honoring the former Slovenian immigrant section of Joliet. She was also known as SWU’s “Sunshine Lady”, served on Branch #20’s Scholarship Committee and was selected as their mother of the Year in 1995.
She dedicated her time tirelessly to St Joseph’s Church and school. She initiated the St Joe’s school memorial plaque to help pay the tuition for the children of the families in need of assistance. She participated on numerous boards and attended and volunteered at many church and school festivals, dances, masses and fundraisers. She never missed a holiday of decorating the massive altars of the church in a beautiful and spectacular fashion.
In the 1950’s she was fortunate to travel to the homeland of Ljubljana, Yugoslavia with her parents on the Queen Mary, to visit the many remaining family members there. Jonita loved to travel and together with Fred made many journeys. Two very special places in her heart, where they traveled many times, were Winneconne, Wisconsin for fishing and boating and Orlando, Florida to Walt Disney World. Fred surprised her by taking her to Hawaii in the 70’s and a great love for the Hawaiian Islands and their music became a new favorite of hers.
They drove across the U.S. making sure to take in all the sightseeing that this country had to offer to them and their 3 daughters.
Josephine and Fred were a popular fixture in the Slovenian dance community and spent much of their life doing the Polka together at every given opportunity with many loving family, friends and fellow dancers. The annual Grape Festival was a particular favorite of theirs as well as the Summerfests at St. Joe’s Park.
Other notables in her life in Joliet were: very proud first chair violinist in the Saint Francis Academy Band, grade school crossing guard for the city, fundraiser for the March of Dimes and Broward Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization, Volunteer at Joliet’s Rialto Square Theatre, local election judge, an enthusiastic campaigner and fundraiser for various city of Joliet Officials, and a member of KSKJ.
The last 5 years of Josephine’s life were spent in Hollywood, Florida near 2 of her daughters. She was able, in her last years of her life, to attend family birthdays, dinners, and outings. She enjoyed the beautiful year-round beach weather, socializing at the local American Legion and spent time with her grandson Noah. Josephine shared a special bond with Noah (Noah has Down Syndrome), and he provided a sparkle in her eyes. Sadly Covid 19 had her locked down in quarantine for many months. This was a very difficult and confusing time for Josephine. Like many other families with elder loved ones, family visits were restricted to communicating only through a glass window. During those trying times, Noah’s visits brought her joy and together they would press their hands and foreheads against the glass in harmony.
Last but definitely not least, Jonita will always be remembered as a DIE-HARD Chicago Cubs fan! Each baseball season found her with a hotdog in one hand, a Miller Lite in the other and singing “take me out to the ballgame”! With extra emphasis on the “root root root for the Cubbies” part! Whether on the radio, TV or at Wrigley Field, she tried never to miss a single game. She enjoyed attending the Cubs conventions and her life was “complete” when in 2016 they finally won the World Series after 108 years!
Josephine is survived by; Three daughters, Eldest, Janice Singletary (George) of Ankeny, Iowa, and their children along with 9 great grandchildren. Rosanne Ruth (Scott Kozak), Hollywood Beach, Florida and Lorraine Ruth (son Noah) Hallandale Beach, Florida. Brother, Ronald Erjavec (Karen) Shorewood, Illinois. As well as numerous nieces and nephews across the U.S.
Family will receive relatives and friends for a visitation on Thursday, January 5, 2023 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Tezak Funeral Home, 1211 Plainfield Road in Joliet. A celebration of Josephine’s life will be held on Friday, January 6, 2023 with prayers in the funeral home chapel at 9:20 a.m. then driving in procession to St. Joseph Catholic Church, 416 N. Chicago St, Joliet, IL. for a Mass of Christian Burial to be held at 10:00 a.m. Interment will follow and Josephine will be laid to rest at St Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Joliet.
Visitation and Funeral Mass will be livestreamed. A link will be provided below the day of the services to access the livestream.
In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Lorraine Ruth (appointed guardian).