Cover photo for Ruth Elizabeth Firme McMillen's Obituary
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1937 Ruth 2024

Ruth Elizabeth Firme McMillen

December 17, 1937 — March 16, 2024


Ruth Elizabeth Firme McMillen, aged 86, of Berrien Springs, Michigan, peacefully passed away on March 16, 2024. Ruth, along with her late husband William “Jerry,” adopted two children: Gregory (Sue) McMillen of Zionsville, IN, and Patrick McMillen of Aurora, Illinois. Their family grew to include three beloved grandsons: Michael, Mitchell, and Marshall McMillen.

Ruth was recognized for her generosity and compassionate heart. Throughout her life, Ruth devoted herself to assisting those in need, extending a helping hand not only to her sisters, brothers, and friends but also to other family members. Born in Gary, Indiana, on December 17, 1937, to Amos, and Alma Firme, Ruth was the heart of a large and loving family, which included her siblings Jene, Doris, Carole, Carla, Fred, and Elaine, along with her nieces and nephews.

Ruth's God given ability to remember numbers and people's names not only made her an outstanding telephone operator but also endeared her to those around her. She had a talent for making new friends and had a knack for making everyone she met feel important by remembering their name. She had a passion for music, art, and camping, and she excelled in playing the violin during her school years while also participating in the drama club. Ruth had a great sense of humor, captured important moments through photography and videography, and possessed a talent for sewing, crafting clothes for herself and others.

While Ruth did not excel in traditional academic subjects, her exceptional memory for numbers and her resourcefulness served as perfect foundations for her career. Ruth embarked on a nursing career before ultimately finding her calling in telecommunications. For over 30 years, she dedicated herself to a career at GTE (later Verizon) as a telephone operator, demonstrating resilience and determination even as her job evolved. Ruth's tenacity was highlighted when her job was phased out and she was faced with the challenge of pursuing her certification as a frame operator, a role responsible for wiring the cables at the central distribution point at the telephone office. She buckled down and systematically completed the highly technical curriculum. Despite facing physical challenges, born with club feet, Ruth achieved her certification, exemplified by her remarkable climb of a telephone pole well into her 50s to complete her certification.

Ruth's life was deeply tied to her treasured husband for 24 years, Jerry, a military veteran, whom she married on June 11, 1966. They prayed for children for several years. It was not in God’s plan for them. Although they were unable to have children of their own, Ruth and Jerry found fulfillment through their involvement in youth ministry, where they honed their secret sloppy joe recipe (Manwich and hamburger). They mentored and cared for countless young people in their small 3-bedroom home in Hobart. They were known for their open-hearted hospitality, which welcomed teenagers into their home nearly every weekend.

Later, they applied at the Baptist Children’s Home for a newborn baby. They were on the waiting list for years. Their bundle of joy arrived 14 and 15 years late. On August 9, 1976, she adopted 2 teenage boys Gregory and Patrick.

Ruth really loved and cherished her children, her sisters, and brothers. Ruth was truly known for her generous heart. Ruth worked most holidays, so she had extra money to support her family and to help her sisters and brothers when they needed help. She was also generous to her church and missionary children, and even donated money to Billy Graham Crusade. Also, Ruth hired her nieces and nephews for odd-jobs so they could earn extra money.

Ruth faced life's challenges with courage and grace, even as she battled breast cancer and diabetes. Her resilience never wavered, and she maintained a positive outlook, always wearing a smile even through chemotherapy treatments. In her final days, Ruth's faith remained steadfast, and she passed away peacefully in her sleep, after being hospitalized for Covid-19 and pneumonia. She was comforted by the promise of eternal rest in her heavenly home.

Please join the family in making a memorial contribution to the Traders Point Christian Church Foster & Adoption ministry, in leu of flowers. Ruth had a passion for kids and adopted Gregory and Patrick from Indiana State foster program. We could not think of a better way to honor Ruth’s life. This is a link to Amazon where you can purchase desperately needed items for the Foster & Adoption ministry in Ruth’s memory to honor her passion for foster children:


A celebration of Ruth's life will be held at Aaron-Ruben-Nelson Mortuary (111411 N Michigan Rd, Zionsville, IN. 46077) on Saturday, May 11, 2024, with visitation beginning at 1 pm (EDT) and a service at 2 pm (EDT), followed by a meal. After dinner, everyone is invited to the home of Greg and Sue for dessert.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ruth Elizabeth Firme McMillen, please visit our flower store.


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