Cover photo for Ruth Deboer's Obituary
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1930 Ruth 2023

Ruth Deboer

May 6, 1930 — June 6, 2023

West Lafayette, IN

Ruth Olga (Kanwischer) DeBoer, 93, a resident of University Place in West Lafayette, Indiana, passed away on the morning of Tuesday, June 6, 2023. She was born on May 6, 1930, in Rochester, New York, to the late Oswald and Olga Zuch Kanwischer. She grew up in Rochester’s German-American community, a member of the Andrews Street Baptist Church, where her mother was long-time choir director. Ruth sang in the church choir, and in choirs at Benjamin Franklin High School. She graduated from Franklin in 1948, and, like so many Rochester residents, went to work for Eastman Kodak. She would tell stories about Kodak’s efforts to develop color film during that time, and the particular problems with the color red. She met Larry DeBoer in the Andrews Street Baptist Church choir in 1945. They married on June 10, 1950. A year later the newlyweds moved to New York City, living in married student housing at Union Theological Seminary, where Larry was a divinity student and administrator. Ruth worked as a secretary at Riverside Cathedral in New York. She liked to say that she got to sign Nelson Rockefeller’s name to pay cathedral bills. Ruth moved with Larry successively to Williamstown, Massachusetts, Hamden, Connecticut, Setauket and Port Jefferson, New York, Sioux Falls, South Dakota and finally to West Lafayette Indiana. She made a home for Larry and their three children, then lovingly cared for Larry over many years of health issues. She was a founding resident of University Place Retirement Community in West Lafayette, where she lived for twenty years. Ruth’s husband Larry died on February 2, 2010. She is survived by two sons, Lawrence P. DeBoer Jr. (wife: Melody) of West Lafayette and Bruce E. DeBoer (wife: JoAnn Garofalo) of Raleigh, N.C.; a daughter, Magdalena R. Gilbert (husband: Richard) of Gilbertsville, N.Y.; and a beloved brother, Alfred Kanwischer (late wife: Heidi), of Pittsboro, North Carolina. Also surviving are three grandchildren, William (wife: Keirsten) DeBoer of Fruitland, Maryland, Caroline DeBoer of West Lafayette, and Whitney (husband: Trevor) Morris of Raleigh, North Carolina. Will and Keirsten expect a great-grandchild in December. Ruth loved crafts and houseplants and kept a cactus in her apartment that only she knew how to touch without hazard. Her Christian faith was strong. She attended Sunday afternoon church services at University Place. She sang at the weekly UP hymn sing, and admired the Booth Brothers gospel group. She liked Bruce Springsteen too. She was a fan of the New York Mets and of Willie Mays, who shared her May 6 birthday. Ruth was cheerful and kind and much loved at University Place by all who knew her. Her family is grateful for the loving care that the UP nurses and staff provided, especially during her recent months in assisted living and the health center. A private family service will be held at a future date. The family requests that memorial contributions be made to Lafayette Urban Ministries. Hahn-Groeber Funeral Home of Lafayette is caring for the DeBoer family. Please leave memories and condolences at

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