Ruth Ann (Martin) Van Kuren

Dec. 10, 1943 - Feb. 24, 2024

Ruth Ann (Martin) Van Kuren was born Dec. 10, 1943, to Chester and Helen (Scharpenberg) Martin. Ruth was the oldest of five children and passed away at the age of 80 on Feb. 24, 2024.

She grew up in the LaCrosse community and graduated from LaCrosse HS in 1961. She graduated as a registered nurse from Deaconess School of Nursing in 1964.

Ruth loved her family, cruising, camping, gardening and kids in general.

Within a week of graduating nursing school, she flew to Waco, Texas, and married the love of her life, 2nd Lt. Lawson Van Kuren. They had met in 1959 at the State B Basketball Tournament in Spokane.

They later settled in Cheney, Wash., where they raised their family. Together they were very involved in the community and especially the sport of track and field. They received many honors for their work with the Cheney Track Club, which they founded and ran for 35 years.

Ruth mainly coached the youngest participants and handled the paperwork. She received the USA Track & Field President's Award in 1986 and Horace Crow Award in 2001 for her work at both the local and national levels in support of youth track and field. Ruth and Lawson were the first couple to be honored with the SWABS 25-year award in 1997 and are also together in the Eastern Washington University Sports Hall of Fame for their support of EWU track programs.

In 2015, the Cheney Middle School track was dedicated to them, along with their motto of "Do Your Best." Cheney High School track continues to honor their legacy with the Van Kuren Invitational Track Meet.

Ruth worked for more than 35 years in the Cheney School District in various roles to support teachers. She also worked for over 30 years as an outside cruise consultant for several travel agencies. She and Lawson cruised to every continent in their 50 years of marriage prior to his death in 2015. Ruth continued to cruise with family and friends and experienced over 90 cruises.

Ruth camped nearly every summer of her adult life. She always said when it was time to pick raspberries from her garden, it was time to go camping. When she was 78, she spent 17 days tent camping with various family members in Kaniksu National Forest, one of her favorite places in this world that she had seen so much of.

Ruth is survived by her daughters, Carol (Richard) Campbell and Cathy (Gregorio) Munoz; grandsons, Richard (Brandy) Campbell and David Campbell; four great-grandchildren; and numerous honorary members of the family. She is also survived by her siblings, Mary Martin, Jerry Martin, Charles Martin, and Janet Leroue.

Ruth has requested no services. A family gathering for distribution of both Lawson and Ruth's ashes will be at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to any youth organization of your choice, or the Cheney Track Club Scholarship, in care of Cheney Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box 160, Cheney, WA 99004.

 

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