Ruth Elaine (Zurbriggen) Knight Kenney
Ruth Elaine (Zurbriggen) Knight Kenney, 97, of West Union, Iowa, formerly of Postville, Iowa, passed away on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, from complications of Alzheimer's disease.
Elaine was born on Feb. 8, 1922, at Korn Hill Farm in rural Fayette, Iowa, to Mattias and Marguerite (Wirz) Zurbriggen. She graduated from Elgin High School in 1939. After graduation, Elaine worked in her father's bakeries both in Elgin, Iowa, and Sumner, Iowa. After World War II started, she worked for the Gudeman Co. in Chicago as a riveter.
In 1942, Elaine took the train to Salinas, Calif., where she married Roy DeMilt Knight on June 24, 1942. Roy was stationed at Camp Ord in Salinas.
After Roy left California, Elaine returned to Chicago and worked there until 1943. She then joined the U.S. Women's Auxiliary Army Corps, which later became the Women's Army Corps (WAC). Elaine's enlistment was for the duration of World War II plus 6 months. She appeared in newsreels that were shown in movie theaters across the United States. She was then transferred to the U.S. Air Force base in Salinas, Calif., where she earned her sergeant stripes.
In 1944, Sgt. Ruth Elaine Knight was chosen to be the U.S. Women's Army Corps national poster girl, where she did a lot of recruitment to urge women to join the war effort. She was on posters in every post office and recruiting office across the United States. There were life-size cutouts of Sgt. Ruth E. Knight placed in military hospitals, post offices, etc. Sgt. Ruth E. Knight was stationed at the Salinas Air Force Base until 1945. They moved back to Elgin, Iowa, where Roy was assistant manager at the Elgin Cooperative for about two years. Roy then accepted the manager's position at the Postville Cooperative in Postville, Iowa, which he held until 1976.
Roy and Elaine had four children, Renee, Janice, Jack and Noel. They were married 34 years until Roy's death in 1976. On June 1, 1980, Elaine married James Robert "Bob" Kenney at the Little Brown Church in Nashua, Iowa. They lived on a farm near Hazleton until Bob's death in 1991. In 1992, Elaine moved back to Postville and then later to Elgin.
She is survived by her children, Janice Tirzmalis, Jack Knight, Noel (Debra) Knight, James (Chelly) Kenney and Connie (Don) Hill; nine grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
She is preceded in death by her parents; both husbands; brothers, Paul and Gordon Zurbriggen; sister, Eda Zurbriggen Weibel; daughter, Renee Knight, on Sept. 15, 2019; and son-law, Al Tirzmalis.
Memorials may be given to the Postville Public Library, Postville, Iowa.
Funeral services will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at Community Presbyterian Church, Postville, Iowa, with a visitation one hour before services at the church on Saturday. The officiant will be Pastor Ryan Zurbriggen.
Inurnment with military rites will be in Postville Cemetery in Postville, Iowa.
Schutte-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Postville, Iowa, is helping the family with the arrangements.