Her experience-rich life came to a quiet end at Sacred Heart Medical Center while surrounded by family.
Having graduated from St. Peter’s High School in Anaconda, Ruth was ahead of her time - a true “working woman” who pursued education and employment during an era in which few did.
She graduated from Spokane Community College in hotel/motel sales, Illinois’ Lasalle University with a certificate in stenotype and Northwest Business College with a general business degree.
Having worked in Montana’s state capitol as a stenographer, Ruth moved to Spokane in the early ‘40s, where she raised her family and resided for the next 70 years, and worked at such landmarks as The Davenport in the ‘50s and a 25-year stint at the Ridpath Hotel.
She continued to work well into her 60s and 70s at jewelry stores - Tom Sawyer Jewelry in Ketchikan, Alaska, and Dodson’s Jewelry downtown.
Her full life incorporated a love of travel, including visits to Hong Kong, Spain, Italy, the Bahamas and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
While she loved working in the community and had a fondness for social gatherings - especially if they included wine, cheese and crab cakes - Ruth was above all a woman devoted to family and friends.
She enjoyed making new friends, but treasured her dearest with lifelong loyalty.
Her family was most important to her; there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for any of them - from providing a Catholic-school education for five children as a single mother to lending a non-judgmental ear and insightful advice for grandchildren.
She was dignified and proud, and went about life with determination, integrity and grace.
Ruth “did it her way,” with but a few regrets.
She will be dearly missed by all who had the fortune to know her, we are comforted knowing that she is wrapped in peace, comfort and joy in Heaven.
Ruth was preceded in death by her parents, husband John Tonkovich, brothers Robert and Jack Clifford, sister Mary Jane Tuss, children Michael, Michelle and Marc, as well as son-in-law Richard DeFrance.
She is survived by a brother, Father Richard Clifford, four children: Carla DeFrance, Phil Tonkovich, Cindy Gibson (husband Dale) and Dan Tonkovich (wife Susan), as well as daughter-in-law Judy and12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
A viewing will be held Thursday, Jan. 17, at 6 p.m. at St. Aloysius Catholic Church followed by a recital of the Rosary at 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place Friday, Jan. 18, at 1 p.m. at the Jesuit House Chapel on the Gonzaga Campus with a reception following.
Ruth’s family would like to thank Dr. Dionne for the years of care he provided, as well as Drs.
Danley and Kirk, and all the staff, at Sacred Heart for their care and comfort provided during her final days.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Hennessey Smith and a tribute page can be found at hennesseyfuneralhomes.com.
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