Cover photo for Ruth Ann Lowder's Obituary
Ruth Ann Lowder Profile Photo

Ruth Ann Lowder

July 20, 1936 — March 16, 2024

Ruth Ann Lowder

Ruth Ann Lowder passed away on March 16, 2024, in the presence of her loving family. She will be dearly missed by her family, friends, church, and community.

Ruth Ann was born July 20, 1936, to Hazel (Williams) and Clarence Arganbright at their home in Arthur, IL. Even in a close-knit family, Ruth and her sister Shirley had a special bond. The two shared a room, a convertible, and countless moments together. After a family get-together, it was easy to find Ruth and Shirley: follow the sounds of chatting, teasing, and laughter to the kitchen sink, where they took turns washing and drying dishes.

Ruth’s innate musical talent shone through from a young age, and she excelled in piano lessons. At only 16 years old, she became the pianist and organist for Vine Street Christian Church.

She enjoyed school, especially reading and writing. Math was her least favorite class, at least until the year she sat behind Robert “Bob” Lowder. Ruth found Bob witty, kind, and thoughtful—in addition to an excellent and enthusiastic math tutor. From the first date, a trip to the school play, they immediately connected.

Ruth graduated from Arthur High School in 1955 and enrolled in Eastern Illinois University, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education.

During her studies, Bob was drafted by the Army Corps of Engineers. Before going overseas, Bob asked Ruth to marry him, and she joyfully accepted. She wrote him a letter every day for the two years he was away. (In typical Bob fashion, he loved to tease her about the two days her letters didn’t arrive on time!)

Ruth and Bob exchanged wedding vows on March 28, 1959 at Vine Street Christian Church.

They lived in a white house on Illinois Street for more than 50 years, where Ruth enjoyed parenting, grandparenting, and entertaining. Ruth’s memory is kept alive by her three children, who made her very proud: Allen Lowder (Jenny Lu) of Irvine, CA; Marilyn (Kevin) Maffett of Bloomington, IL; and Marcia (Greg) Stiff of St. Peters, MO. She is also survived by her sister Shirley Edwards of Arthur, IL.

From the 1950s until 2020, anyone who attended Vine Street could feel—and hear—Ruth’s passion for making beautiful music. She played piano and organ for thousands of Sunday morning church services, weddings, funerals, choir rehearsals, and special events. She accompanied many school concerts over the years, as well as student performers at solo and ensemble contests.

At home, her piano was a common gathering spot: she practiced, gave lessons, and cajoled piano-playing family members into impromptu duets. Ruth passed on her passion and talent for music to multiple children and grandchildren who play piano, sing, and perform on stage.

Ruth adored her grandchildren: Andrew (Angela) Maffett; Kelsey Maffett (Marissa Diekhoff); Paige Maffett; A.J. and Ace Lowder (fiancée Kelly Choi); and Brady and Kailynn Stiff. Her grandkids recall fun-filled days at Yoder’s Kitchen, the Pumpkin Patch, and watching U of I basketball games on TV. While running errands, she could always find somewhere to get her signature drink: tea or Diet Coke with lots of ice. On birthdays, Bob would hold the phone so Ruth could play Happy Birthday on the piano and sing along—complete with piano flourishes, plus “and many moooooore!”

Ruth valued time spent with friends, and she always looked forward to book club, playing bridge, and outings with the Psi Iota Psi sorority.

Ruth loved being a teacher and seeing things “click” for students, and she spent most of her career teaching third graders at Arthur Elementary. Long after retiring in 1999, it was common to hear “Miss Lowder!” from her former students around town, some of whom even worked at Mid-State Tank, the company Bob co-founded in 1986.

Ruth and Bob were married for more than 60 years before he passed on in March 2023. In March 2024, after several days surrounded by family sharing their love and memories, Ruth passed away peacefully during an Illini basketball game.

Ruth leaves an incredible legacy that is hard to put into words, but in the spirit of trying: Be kind to your teachers. Mind your flats and sharps. And find something you love so much you could do it for 68 years.

A service will be held at 12:00 PM (noon) on Sunday, April 28, 2024 at Vine Street Christian Church in Arthur, IL. In Ruth’s honor, donations may be made to Vine Street Christian Church and Centennial Christian Church in Bloomington, IL.  The Edwards Funeral Home is assisting with arrangements.


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Sunday, April 28, 2024

12:00pm - 11:00 am (Central time)

Vine Street Christian Church

249 S Vine St, Arthur, IL 61911

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