Ruth Pauline Cootsona was born at home in Puyallup, Washington in the early hours of March 2, 1925, daughter to Alma Venator and Paul Behrens, both native Germans. She exhibited the classic Teutonic traits of self-confidence, a love of learning and beauty, and dedication to hard work. Her first two decades or so were spent in her hometown area (about 35 miles south of Seattle). She received a B.A. in French Literature from the College (now University) of Puget Sound. On August 7, 1949, she married Thomas Cootsona. It is difficult to image these two apart because they formed an enduring and adoring bond for the next 65 years.
Ruth and Tom were part of the “Greatest Generation” that rebuilt the United States after World War Two. After a four-month trip to Europe (often recounted to family members), they built a home together, first near Seattle—where Marcus, their first son, was born—and then Portland. In 1961, tired of the Northwest rains, they headed down to sunny, temperate Menlo Park. Tom started with the Syntex Corporation, and not too long after, Ruth gave birth to their second son, Greg. During that time, Ruth employed her gifts of writing in various local publications and and participated in philanthropic organization such as the Peninsula Volunteers. In 1981, it was time to make a career switch, and the Cootsona Duo purchased Top Spin Tennis, a tennis specialty shop with the able help of Marcus as manager and, for several years, Greg as well, which they ran until 2004. They continued in their love for retail by working at Marcus’s retail outlet, Pro Tennis, until retiring in 2008 (thus for Ruth, at the age 83). Shortly thereafter, they moved to Chico to be with Greg and his family. In her final years, despite physical decline, Ruth never lost her kindness, elegance, and creativity. She diedpeacefully on December 29, 2015.
Mom, we will miss you—your unique turns of a phrase and your fierce devotion to your family (and that we excel in every way beyond expression). We remember how you were our best PR agent. We remember how you were always ready to celebrate with a glass of sparking wine. We remember the way you threw thousands of tennis balls so we could improve our strokes for the next junior tournament. We remember the way you read our books, watched our magic shows and musical performances, and listened to Greg’s sermons and Marcus’s comedy tapes.. We remember the way you encouraged us to learn trumpet and drums (drums of all instruments!) and how you loved the rhythms of samba and bossa nova. We remember how you and dad danced to “The Girl From Ipanema”—and that you’re dancing together again. We remember and celebrate you.
Ruth is survived by their two sons, Marcus, who lives in Menlo Park, CA, with his wife, Melinda, and their son, Marcus James; and Greg, who lives in Chico, CA with his wife Laura and their two daughters, Melanie and Elizabeth.
There will be a private service to remember Ruth. In lieu of gifts, please donate to the Thomas N Cootsona Memorial Fund through the North Valley Community Foundation (240 Main Street, Suite 260; Chico, CA 95928).