Obituary: Rutha (Hunter, Spinden) Teter

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Rutha (Hunter, Spinden) Teter, age 79, formerly of El Dorado, KS, passed away peacefully on Sunday, January 26, 2020, in McPherson, KS due to complications associated with a long battle with Coronary Artery Disease.  Rutha, affectionately known a “Granny”, will forever be remembered as a loving and caring wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, and neighbor.

Rutha was born Rutha Hunter on August 25, 1940, to Lemeul LeeRoy Hunter and Rutha Florence (Howard) Hunter in a small cabin in Fairland, OK, a rural community on the north side of The Grand Lake of the Cherokee.  Rutha’s twin brother, Robert (Bob), was born first, just before midnight on August 24, 1940.  In addition to her twin, Rutha had three brothers and two sisters.  Rutha grew up in the hills of northeastern Oklahoma, loving the fact that she was an “Okie”.  She moved to central Kansas with her family as a young girl when her father went to work in the aircraft industry during WWII.  The family settled in El Dorado, where Rutha attended El Dorado Jr. and Sr. High School.

Rutha was united in marriage to her first husband, Chalmers (Chuck) Gray Spinden of Burns, KS on May 31, 1958, and daughters, Sharon and Karen, were born.  Rutha and Chuck had five short years together as Chuck passed away on December 13, 1963.  As a young widow at the age of 23, Rutha’s focus quickly became her children and her “family first” motto was established.

Rutha then met and married the love of her life, her second husband, Alva Harrison (Pete) Teter.  Rutha and Pete were united in marriage on July 28, 1969, and settled on the family farm and ranch located east of El Dorado in Butler County.  Pete was also a widower with two daughters.  They combined their families and raised what many often called the “Teter Tribe”, a house full of children, grandchildren, extended family, friends, and neighbors.

Rutha worked the farm and ranch with her husband, Pete, and what a team they were.  She helped with the spring cattle round up riding horseback in the flint hills, drove wheat trucks and combines, and could buck a bale of hay with the best of them. While she worked side by side with her husband, she also kept her attention toward raising the family and ensuring that the home was never neglected.  Somehow, dinner was always on the table, usually feeding a dozen people or more.  Rutha was an excellent cook.  Her homemade potato soup & dumplings and pie crust cinnamon rolls are legendary.

In the early 1970’s, the family farm and ranch was bought out by the US Corp of Engineers to make way for what is now the El Dorado Lake.  The El Dorado Dam sits in the middle of their nearly 6,000 acres, ending a farm and ranch that had been in the family for over four generations.  Rutha and Pete moved to Potwin, KS where they continued to raise their family.  Rutha attended Butler County Community College in the early 1980’s, studying business and computer technology.  She became a licensed cosmetologist and owned and operated her own beauty shop in El Dorado.

Rutha and Pete both enjoyed traveling and were avid RV-ers.  They even tried “snow birding” for a couple of years in the mid 1980’s.  In the early 1990’s, Rutha and Pete moved to Hesston, KS in order to be closer to family, specifically her granddaughter, Norahs.  While Pete was retired, Rutha worked at the Hesston Elementary School as a custodian, a job she dearly loved.  She took pride in her work and quickly became known as the lady who drove the kids home.  She would drive the students home from school so they didn’t have to walk.  Rutha retired in 1997.

In 2003, Rutha moved to McPherson, again to be close to family and assist with raising yet another generation, her two beloved great-granddaughters, Cheyenne and Shaylyn.  She happily took on this role sharing what she herself had loved throughout life.

Rutha was an artist.  She was a painter who preferred acrylic and tole painting and had spent the last several years creating with colored pencils.  Rutha was a seamstress, often making patters from scratch.  Rutha truly had a green thumb. Spending hours outside in her gardens, she could nurse any dead plant back to life.  Rutha was an avid reader.  She insisted that everyone take turns reading a page from Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House on the Prairie” series as part of the going to bed routine when the family spent weekends at their cabin at the Marion County Lake.  Rutha has been a life-long member of the Church of Christ and was currently a member of the First Christian Church in McPherson, KS, where she served as a behind the scenes arts & crafts preparer for the Rock Solid Kids Youth Group.  Rutha was a collector.  Her most notable collections included her rooster and chicken collection (having to paint the kitchen wall red in order to match), her now famous denim shirts, and her extremely large collection of family photos.

Rutha loved sports, especially baseball. Her favorite team was the New York Yankees, and she watched and supported the Kansas City Royals.  She truly knew the game and could provide a play by play commentary.  She always enjoyed a Sunday afternoon when the Kansas City Chiefs won, and the Dallas Cowboys did not.

Rutha did not know a stranger.  Nothing made her happier than to just sit and visit with other people.  Rutha was a storyteller and the family historian.  She leaves her family with countless memories, and many stories to pass on.  Rutha often told her family, “I never thought that I would have lived the kind of life that I have.  I’ve lived a wonderful life.”

Rutha was preceded in death by her parents, her two husbands, four brothers, her treasured dogs and constant companions, Dakota, Hanna, Sadie Belle, and the only cat she ever had, Mamma Kitty.  Rutha is survived by daughter, Sharon Kay Spinden of McPherson, KS; son-in-law, Donald Ray White of Towanda, KS; daughter, Karen Ray Spinden of McPherson, KS; granddaughter, Norahs Rae-Dawn (White) Grant and great-granddaughters, Cheyenne Rose Grant and Shaylyn Odessa-Rayne Grant of McPherson, KS; great-grandson-in-law, Mark Allen Grant of Canton, KS; her little dachshund, Isabella Pearl; her granddogs, Buddy and Jack; two sisters; and many extended family members and friends.

A come and go visitation celebrating the life of Rutha will be held from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Wednesday, January 29, 2020, at Stockham Family Funeral Home.  A graveside service will be held at 3:00 PM, Friday, January 31, at Bella Vista Cemetery in El Dorado, KS with Rev. Dr. Lynn Scott officiating.

The family suggests memorial donations to the American Heart Association or the First Christian Church Youth Group, McPherson, in care of Stockham Family Funeral Home, 205 North Chestnut, McPherson, KS 67460.  Personal condolences may be sent to the family at www.stockhamfamily.com.

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