Obituary for Ruth Lenore McCullough

Born Feb. 22, 1927, Ruth Lenore McCullough entered her heavenly home on Aug. 3, 2023, at 96 years old, from her home in Safford, Arizona. She was the third child born to Claud and Hazel (McCreery) Howe, after Olah and Ronald, followed by DuWayne at their family farm in the rural community of Housel, near Leslie, Michigan.

Her parents modeled in every way Christlike living, and she lived her entire life in service to Christ first.  

Her childhood was happy, perhaps idyllic, even though it was during the Great Depression. World War II started when she was in high school, and she worked in a textile factory to support the war effort. She graduated in 1944.

After graduation she continued working in the textile factory, then later she waited tables at her aunt’s truck stop. There she met a trucker, L.G. (Mac) McCullough, who was 19 years older and had three children. They married shortly thereafter, and at 20 years of age, she became stepmom to Frank, Terry, and Sandra. The boys were young adults and Sandra was still at home. In 1947 their daughter, Rosemari, was born. Soon after Sandra left home to be married.

Over the next six years, this little family of three lived in various communities in Michigan. In 1953-54 she attended a school of cosmetology, then studied styling, in Grand Rapids. Upon graduation, she opened her first beauty salon in their home in Eaton Rapids.

She left Michigan and moved to Arizona at age 30 for her health. That meant leaving behind her parents and the rest of her extended family. Her family was always important to her, she made two trips each year to spend time with them. Everywhere she lived her church family became family to her as well.

Throughout the following years, she usually owned the salons she worked in as a hairdresser. She worked in Tucson, Bisbee, Sierra Vista, Ft. Huachuca, and Scottsdale, Arizona, then later in Colorado Springs and Woodland Park, Colorado, before opening a salon in Safford, Arizona, where, after 50 years, she retired from hairdressing.

Ruth Lenore McCullough

She was never idle.  When not at work in the salon she was knitting, crocheting, sewing, painting pottery, gardening, cooking, and canning.  She enjoyed cooking for people and giving them the things she had made and the produce from her garden.  She loved music. In high school, she played coronet in the marching band. She played the piano, organ, and accordion, and sang in each church she served. She always had a piano or organ in her home.

In the early 1970s, she spent a year as a lay missionary for the Church of the Nazarene on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. It was then she knew she wanted to focus more of her energies on service to Christ. They sold their home and business and moved to Colorado Springs to attend Nazarene Bible College where she studied and received her Associate of Arts Degree with a Bible Certificate and an emphasis on “church planting” in 1975.

That year they moved to Woodland Park, Colorado, where she opened a beauty salon while helping to establish the Church of the Nazarene as a charter member there.  In 1980 they were invited to move to Safford to do the same.  So, once again, they sold up and moved.  Six months after that move Mac, her husband of 33 years, died from a fall injury.   As a 53-year-old widow, she continued with her church work and building her business as a hairdresser.

While in Colorado she discovered her talent for painting.  She began taking lessons in oil painting there. Then after moving to Safford, she continued taking lessons at Eastern Arizona College adding watercolor to her skill set. Over the 47 years that she enjoyed painting she gave all her work away to family and friends who will continue to treasure them.

In 1984, Stewart T. Jones, a cowboy/miner from Duncan, Arizona, asked her to marry him. Stewart was a quiet, gentleman with three grown children, Charles, Walter, and Cheryl.  They spent the next 30 years in service to the church and enjoying traveling in their leisure time. They spent many hours at the ranch where Stewart had grown up, enjoying wonderful family time. Stewart went home to be with the Lord on Aug. 6, 2015.

Her parents, siblings, most of her cousins, a niece, a nephew, and four stepchildren predeceased her in death.  

She is survived by her daughter, Rosemari Warner; a daughter-in-law, Frances McCullough; stepchildren, Charles (Debbie) Jones, and Cheryl Gibbons; and grandchildren, Brenda Ruff, Cheryl (Joe) Morales, Denise Townsend, Christopher (Jill) Peabody, Daniel (Dana) Peabody, Jenifer (Doug) Lavarnway, Tina (Greg) Potts, Steven (Kammy) McCullough, Danielle (Dave) Finigan, Krysta Warner, Andria Lindsey, and James Gibbons. There are 25 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren.

Ruth loved people, and she was always open to adding new people to her host of friends.  She loved unconditionally and never gave up on people. Until she could no longer write she kept up correspondence with friends and family from the whole span of her life, although she did outlive a large part of them. The people in her life mattered to her and she diligently prayed for them all. She was a delightful person to know.  She was funny and enjoyed keeping people smiling and laughing. She’d tell a story and you’d have to wait a bit to see if that little glint in her eye and a laugh showed up to let you know it might just be a “story”. Her smile lit up her eyes.

The Celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, at 10 a.m. at the Real Life Community Church of the Nazarene 106 S 8th Ave., Safford, AZ 85546.  There will be a meal served after the service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a contribution to the memorial fund for the repaving of the church parking lot.