Ruth Byler died at 7 a.m. Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014, at her South Venice home. She was 81 and had survived pancreatic cancer courageously for 10 months.
She was born Feb. 28, 1933, at Carbondale, Ill., second-oldest of six children of Glenn and Agnes Sneed. She preferred Ruth to her given first name, Wanda.
Survivors include her husband, Bob; daughters, Rena Breeding of Colorado and Diane Pasley of Wisconsin; son, Gregory Byler of South Venice, Fla.; brothers, Cliff Sneed of Tennessee, James Sneed of Georgia and Chuck Sneed of Arkansas; and sister Jessie Moore of California.
Others are grandchildren Kyle Luther and Crystall Johnson of Texas, Tiffany Christian and Wesley and Natasha Breeding of Colorado and Ben and Zach Pasley of Wisconsin; and seven great-grandchildren.
Ruth was a research lab technician and Bob a publications editor at Caterpillar Tractor Co in Peoria, Ill., when they were married June 28, 1959, by his minister father at Barry, Ill.
They also lived in Richmond, Va., a Washington, D.C., suburb, Evansville, Ind., and Bowling Green and Haskins, Ohio, until moving to South Venice, Fla., in 2001.
Ruth began working to support family needs at age 12. She also sold home products, operated comptometers, was a nursing home and school secretary, directed a church pre-school program, sold real estate, managed rental houses and was a test lab tech at a rubber company for 14 years until retiring in 1995.
She teamed with Bob in their professional and avocational photo and video sideline, doing group portraits, weddings, band performances and travel video. They visited 50 states and 55 countries and edited 11 travel videos from tours abroad. Copies have been donated to libraries in Venice, Fla., and elsewhere.
Ruth is also admired for longtime volunteer service as an usher at Venice Theatre and a worker at the Venice-Nokomis Methodist Church Bargain Center in Venice, Fla. Her friends there helped celebrate her 81st birthday in February at her home. She continued helping at the center until the last week of her life.
She also was a published poet, a fine carpenter and gardener, a bowler who won many trophies and an avid shark’s tooth hunter on Venice, Fla., beaches. Her sense of humor was legendary, and she greeted telephone callers with a “Good morning to you” song. She emphasized the positive with a cheerful “thumbs up” attitude.
Tributes to Ruth by friends and associates wherever she lived report her selfless service and helping many with their needs. She was called “a true saint who walked this earth” and “a prism that the light of God shone through to touch so many people.”
Family members and Tidewell Hospice nurses provided support during her illness. Daughters Diane and Rena came from their states. As husband, Bob, recovered from his major surgery, son Greg was a caretaker and took her to medical appointments.
His inspiring message after she passed on was, “A new bright star in the sky is now shining down on us all.”
Services: Her remains were cremated. A Celebration of Life event will be held later at Venice-Nokomis United Methodist Church. Her published poems, pictorial history and biography are being put together in a memorial booklet.