Ruth Phillips Natvig Kilmer dies at 97

Ruth Phillips Natvig Kilmer, 97, passed away Dec. 18, 2018. She was born March 7, 1920 in New Hampton, the daughter of Cleve and Myrtle Phillips. She graduated from New Hampton High School, attended Grinnell College, Iowa State University, University of Dubuque and University of Northern Iowa earning a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics Education, graduating Cum Laude. She served as president of Delta Phi social sorority, president of Pan Hellenic sororities at the University of Dubuque and president of YWCA. 

Ruth married Orlo G. Natvig June 27, 1945 when he returned from WWII as a radio operator on a B17 and had spent nearly two years as a POW in Stalag 17B, Krems, Austria. They had four children, Connie Minnes (Mason), Urbana, Ill; Sue Waite (Jack), Lompoc, Clif; Bruce P. Natvig (Lisa), Noblesville, Ind. and Kristin Swenson (Kevin), Fairfax Station, Va. They have eight grandchildren- Adam Waite (Eve), Andrew Waite, Matthew Minnes (Amanda), Joshua Minnes, Lauren Swenson, Alexa Swenson, Hannah Natvig and Alexander Natvig and four great grandchildren- Eli Minnes, Isaac Waite, Olive Minnes and Marlow Minnes. Orlo died Sept. 3, 1995 and daughter, Sue, on February 3, 1999.

Ruth taught school in Riceville, from 1942 to 1945 and summers were spent as head lifeguard at the New Hampton city swimming pool. She was Floyd County Home Economist from 1954 to 1958. Ruth taught home economics in Charles City for 20 years, retiring in 1985. She was honored to be chosen to attend a drug symposium in Chicago with fellow educators and also received an award for Human Effort in Project Pride.

She held lifetime memberships in the National Education Association, Iowa State Education Association, Omicron Mu (honorary home economics sorority), Alpha Delta Kappa (teachers’ honorary sorority), American Ex Prisoners of War, the Mayflower Society and the P.E.O. Sisterhood, Chapter DV of Minnesota. She and Orlo lived in Charles City from 1946 to 1986 before moving to Nisswa, Minn. and then moving to Sun City West, Ariz. in 1993.

In 1968 she was president of the women’s groups at St. John Lutheran Church when a tornado devastated Charles City. The church, being the only one not destroyed, became central emergency location and Ruth took charge of serving meals and sandwiches during the three months of recovery efforts.

She helped secure the propeller from the plane in which Orlo was shot down and then had it dedicated to the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. She attended many national and state conventions of the American Ex Prisoners of War from 1977 to 2009. She helped organize chapters in Iowa and in Minnesota serving as Adjutant of Northeast Iowa Ex POW, Lakes Region Minnesota Ex POW, and Agua Fria Arizona Ex POW.

Ruth was a member of Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Sun City West and past president of Esther Circle.

Ruth married Lloyd W. Kilmer Dec. 27, 1996 and they resided in Sun City West, Ariz. until his passing in January of 2016.

Memorials are requested to: Northwest Valley Veterans Association to be mailed to Harold Stern, 311, 18626 N Spanish Garden, Sun City West, Ariz. 85375 or Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 13724 W Meeker Blvd, Sun City West, Ariz. 85375.

A memorial service will be held Jan. 8, 2018 at 1 p.m. at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Sun City West, Ariz. Burial will be in Graceland Cemetery in New Hampton, June 12 at 10:30 a.m. followed by a celebration of her life. Please join Ruth’s family in sharing memories, pictures or videos on her tribute wall at

New Hampton Tribune

10 North Chestnut Ave
New Hampton, IA 50659
Phone: (641) 394-2111

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