Life Story Visitation
Tuesday, December 19, 2023
11:00 AM EST
St. Joseph Church
936 Lake Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Followed by lunch in the church hall.
Tuesday, December 19, 2023
2:00 PM EST
Ft. Custer National Cemetery
15501 Dickman Road
Augusta, MI 49012
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
St. Joseph Church
936 Lake Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With sparkling eyes and a joyful heart, Ruby Haney lived a life rich in faith, family, and friends. Born and raised in the South, she blessed the North with her family's quick wit and humor. Very engaging, Ruby never met a stranger and had a gift for making everyone around her feel important. Ruby was fun-loving, warm, and silly. Though she never intended to be the life of the party, she was often the source of good times. In Ruby's good company, all happiness was magnified, and every hardship lessened. A beloved wife, mother, sister, grandmother, and friend, Ruby will long be remembered and so dearly missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1931 beheld a power of hope that undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there a greater sense of hope than in the home of Nell (Hill) Lee and Walter Frank Lee as they welcomed their daughter Ruby to their family on October 2 in Nashville, Tennessee. The fifth child of nine, Ruby grew up in Nashville, where her father owned restaurants and grocery stores and her mother was a homemaker. A fun-loving kid, Ruby wasn't a party-goer but was often the life of the party. After spilling sugar once, she was banned from the kitchen and sent out to be the babysitter instead. She loved kids, so this was a good fit for her.
From the start, Ruby possessed a kind heart and always did kind things for people. One of her family's most treasured stories of her kindness was when she wanted to bring a fudgesicle home from school for her little brother, but it melted by the time she got home. The family moved often as Ruby's dad bought a lot of restaurants. Most of her siblings worked in the kitchen, but Ruby's job was out front, greeting guests, being a hostess, and running the register. She was great with people and good with money. Ruby played basketball in high school and celebrated her graduation not with the traditional purchasing of a car, but rather, she bought herself a piano.
Ruby met her husband, Glenworth Robert Haney, on a blind date. He never asked her to marry him, and she never said yes. He was serving in the Army at the time and asked if she would become a Catholic and move to Michigan with him. She said, "If you bring me back to see my family once a year and take my piano." On March 1, 1952, the couple was united in marriage, and Ruby's piano was sent by train up to Michigan. It's still in the family to this day. Their relationship worked because he was a paratrooper in the Army and a cook, so he did much of the cooking. She told him he could go grocery shopping or stay home with the kids, and he chose grocery shopping.
An incredible musician, Ruby played by ear and frequently made up songs of her own. She played piano, organ, guitar, accordion, mandolin, dulcimer, and spoons. She loved all kinds of music, from children's songs to gospel, country. A morning person, she used the piano to wake up her kids every morning and her grandkids if they spent the night, "It’s time to get up!" Not everyone loved this.
The ultimate hostess, Ruby loved a party. Whether Halloween, Easter, Christmas, St. Patrick's Day, or any other day, Ruby loved to celebrate everything and nothing. She spontaneously orchestrated a parade down the sidewalk for the grandkids, giving each of them an instrument, and she had the grandkids put on a skit at Christmas every year. She turned the garage into a little party barn with a stage and karaoke machine, and family would come every weekend. The family eventually had to rent a hall for holidays because there were so many people.
The family took a vacation every year, mostly to see family in Nashville. They explored the Smokey Mountains and took a big trip to Yellowstone, too. When the kids were young, the family tent camped along the Lake Michigan shoreline and eventually settled a camper at a campground on Portage Lake. Many treasured family memories were made there.
Ruby was, first and foremost, a MOM, and her home was always full of children. Someone asked her one time, if you don't like kids, why'd you have so many? She said, "Oh no, I had babies; no one told me they were going to be kids." Though she was always known for saying, "I never did like kids," she was totally joking. She adored kids, and there was always room for one more of her kids' friends.
A homemaker for many years, Ruby made everything fun. Her children would come home from school to find 10 or 11 notes with instructions that would take them through the house and end up back in the kitchen for a snack. Incredibly creative and resourceful, when the family was low on money, Ruby's kids never knew it because she disguised it so well. She was known for making surprise lunches for the kids. When low on groceries, she would put things like bologna, marshmallows, and raisins together and make a smiley face. Hot dog buns with butter and brown sugar would sometimes be breakfast, and everyone loved it!
In addition to her own children, Ruby enriched the lives of many children with her generous heart, humor, and music. After staying home until the youngest kids were in elementary school age, Ruby began working for Kalamazoo Public Schools. She landed at John F. Kennedy Center School, where she worked with special education students as a teacher’s aide. For over 25 years, she also volunteered with the Girl Scouts, serving as a troop leader for all of her daughters as well as her Kennedy Center students.
Always willing to share her gifts with others, Ruby enjoyed an active social and volunteer life. She was an active member of St. Joseph Parish since becoming a member in 1959 and helped with a variety of ministries, including funeral dinners. She participated in all kinds of clubs, including bowling leagues, Couples Club, Irish American Club, Meals on Wheels, and driving for Shepherd Center. She enjoyed transporting older people who needed rides. For many years, she sang with the Sweet Adelines and entertained at nursing homes with the Prime Time Players throughout the Kalamazoo area.
Ruby loved her sweet treats, especially ice cream and chocolate cream pie. She Invented DQ blizzards before they were a thing and served her grandkids ice cream with Froot Loops on it for breakfast. She ate animal crackers every day but wouldn't eat the cat animal crackers because she loved cats. With signature silliness, she had a special box for the cat animal crackers and a naughty box for animal crackers that were melded together. She kept a bowlful of Hershey Kisses on a table with a sign that said, "Snitchers Only!" If anyone got caught taking one, they had to put it back.
With a legendary and contagious laugh, Ruby inspired many good times. One time, her daughter received a voicemail of Ruby laughing for five solid minutes. Every time the laughter would die down, it would start right back up. Ruby would especially crack up around her sister; they would laugh about nothing together, but it would never fail to get everyone around them laughing, too. Ruby easily found the humor in most things. She had a sign on the back door that read, "Come in! Everything else has gone wrong today." Another sign in the kitchen said, "Please, let's keep this confusion orderly." She'd say, "My eyes are getting big!" making it clear she had her eyes on you! And when she didn't want to get involved in a family dispute, she simply declared, "I have a cold."
An inspiration to all who were blessed to know her, Ruby will always be remembered for her devotion to those she so dearly loved. Whether delighting in sharing time with others, especially babies, grabbing people's cheeks and saying, "You're so cute!" or reaching for a hand and saying, "I love you," Ruby led with her heart in all things. It is this legacy that we celebrate and welcome the honor of carrying forward. Whenever we greet a stranger as a friend, choose faith and hope over fear, share a hearty laugh, celebrate both the ordinary and the extraordinary, indulge in a sweet treat, and gather on the stairs for a family picture, we celebrate all the ways Ruby made the world a better place. In this way, we keep her alive and inspiring others as she so inspired each of us.
Ruby Marie (Lee) Haney, of Kalamazoo, died December 13, 2023, with many family members present. On March 1, 1952, Ruby was united in marriage to Glenworth Robert Haney, who predeceased her in 2000. Surviving are children: Ann (Dan) Anderson of Clio, MI, Steve (Chris) Haney of Spring, TX, Barb (Gordy) DeKoekkoek of Zeeland, MI, Nancy (Tom) Wallace of Kalamazoo, Vickie (Tim) Rooney of Trenton, MI, Don (Sharon) Haney of Middleville, MI, Dan (Ruth) Haney of Kalamazoo, and son-in-law, Tom Millward of Portage. Also surviving are 24 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren (with 2 more preparing to arrive in 2024) Surviving are sister, Peggy Foster of Nashville, TN; sister-in-law, Shirley Lee of Nashville, TN; and numerous nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by 2 daughters, Lin Jarratt and Pat Millward, by brothers Paul, Carl, Bill, and Walter, and sisters, Juanita, Mary Sue, and Dorothy. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where memories and stories will be shared on Monday (DEC 18) from 4-7PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009 (269) 375-2900 where prayer service will be held at 7PM. Mass will be celebrated Tuesday (DEC 19) at 11AM at St. Joseph Church, 936 Lake Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49001 followed by lunch in the hall. Burial at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Visit Ruby's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Joseph Church.