|Birth: ||Aug. 18, 1913|
|Death: ||Feb. 8, 2008|
From the Omaha "World-Herald" Newspaper:
BEHLEN-Ruby, 94, of Columbus, NE, died Friday, February 8, 2008, at the Columbus Community Hospital. Mrs. Behlen was born 18 August 1913, Woodville Township, Platte County, NE, the 9th and last child of James and Mary Ann Moody Cumming. She attended Mount Pleasant (District 47) School and graduated from St. Edward High School in 1930. After high school she stayed home to help on the farm until she attended Vanity School of Cosmetology in Fremont. She worked in beauty shops in Fremont and David City before returning to the farm to help her parents. She kept her cosmetology license current for more than 50 years just in case she might need to support herself. While in Fremont she met Walt Behlen who was visiting the family of her good friend. They were married several years later on April 13, 1940. She was the behind-the-scenes partner in their marriage, managing all aspects of their home life as well as assisting her husband in his business and community endeavors. Together they traveled the world, often sharing the travels with their children and in earlier years with the children's friends. She was involved in numerous volunteer activities including the Area Girl Scout Council, Federated Church Social Board, Red Cross Blood Bank. She was a member of Chapter FJ, P. E. O. She was given a Pi Beta Phi Mother's Pin by the sorority's University of Nebraska chapter for the extraordinary feat of hosting the entire sorority membership (two Greyhound bus loads) for two separate overnight retreats at the Behlen home in Columbus. In 2001 she was awarded the Columbus Public Schools School Bell Award. She is survived by a daughter and son-in-law, Mary Ann and Roman Hruska of Walnut Creek, CA; a son and daughter-in-law, Kent and Donna Behlen of Lincoln; grandchildren Roman and Wendy Hruska of Reno NV, Libby Hruska and Frank Fletcher of Brooklyn, NY; great-grandchildren Roman Hruska IV, Kent Hruska and Sebastian Fletcher. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, brothers Gilbert, Robert, Earl, Orville, Leonard and Roy, sisters Ethel Gustafson and Alta Toms.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 16, 11:00 A.M. at the Federated Church with Rev. Jim Wooten officiating. There will be a private family interment in the Columbus Cemetery. Visitation will be held on Friday from 3:30 - 7:00 P.M. at the Gass Haney Funeral Home and on Saturday from 10:00 - 11:00 A.M. at the church. Memorials may be directed to the St. Edward Library or the Columbus Library Foundation.
From the Columbus "Telegram" Newspaper:
COLUMBUS -- Although she often was in her husband's shadow, Ruby Behlen's strength as a woman, commitment as a wife and mother, and generosity to her community always shined through.
The Friday death of the widow of noted Columbus industrialist Walter Behlen was a surprise to her many friends and her family, but they all looked back fondly on the times and moments they shared with her.
Ruby, 94, was born, the youngest of nine, on a farm in Woodville Township in Platte County, across the road from Boone County.
Growing up in St. Edward, Ruby (Cumming) Behlen's family and Rich Anderson's family were close and through that relationship, Anderson said, he and Ruby Behlen formed a close, long-lasting relationship.
As a personal friend, Anderson described her as a "woman's woman," but his memories will always revert back to how much the Behlens gave back to the Columbus area.
"I praised her so many times for her generosity to this community. l looked at her as a genuine person and friend, and I am going to miss that," he said. "Columbus would not be the same without Ruby and Walt Behlen."
He said after Walt died, she often reminisced about her time with Walt and her family, the exciting things they did and their travels all over the world.
"She also talked a lot about her children ... how proud she was of her children," he said. "It's another one of those great people who have passed on, but their legacy will stay forever. It's going to be a lonely time without Ruby Behlen. I loved the gal."
After graduating from St. Edward High School in 1930 she attended cosmetology school in Fremont, the city where she met her future husband and future industrialist Walt through mutual friends. The two married in 1940 and had two children.
Her children, Mary Ann Hruska and Kent Behlen, were caught off guard by their mother's death.
Hruska said she was expecting to take her mother home from the hospital Friday after a week's stay to recover from surgery. Instead she shared time with her before she passed away.
Kent Behlen said she showed signs of improving with a positive demeanor, but "a bulb burns the brightest before it goes out."
Hruska said she will remember her mother as a loving, nurturing woman and a devoted wife.
"She took care of all of us. Dad couldn't have done what he did if she didn't take care of things. She was the woman behind the man," Hruska said.
Kent Behlen said: "She was the Scotch-Irish lady behind the German genius. He needed support staff, and she was that support staff. She understood his needs and she fulfilled them."
But Ruby Behlen was no meek housewife. Her children said she was just as devoted to the Behlen Manufacturing business as her husband although content to play the supporting role.
Hruska said she made sure Walt and the historical Behlen House looked presentable for meetings and gatherings at a moment's notice.
One time her husband called from his office and told Ruby that businessmen from Japan were accompanying him home, and in less than 10 minutes she had the place ready, she said. And despite her dislike for driving, Ruby Behlen would transport her husband as he made speeches in communities throughout eastern and central Nebraska.
"Mother hated to drive, but she would drive as dad studied his notes," Hruska said, even speeding at times to make sure Walt was on time for his presentations.
"She understood the business. She was never left behind," she said. "She was much more comfortable in the supporting role."
Kent Behlen said she was a strong, intelligent woman who was a behind-the-scenes partner helping to build his dad's business.
"She was an integral part" of Walt's success, he said.
Tony Raimondo, chairman and CEO of Behlen Mfg. Co., said he was shocked to hear of Ruby Behlen's death.
"Ruby, as most people know, placed her heart and soul in helping the Columbus community and Nebraska," Raimondo said. "When Behlen was returned to local ownership, Walt and Ruby were both here. They were instrumental in the progress and turn around of Behlen.
"She was a very dear friend. I am sorry to hear about this loss to our great community."
Polly Abegglen, a longtime friend of the Behlens, said she came to know Ruby as a patron of the arts and spoke fondly of her.
Abegglen said her most memorable moments were when Ruby played host for special events at the Behlen House.
"I have known the Behlen family since the 1930s. Ruby was a very kind, loving and genuine lady and was always willing to help others," Abegglen said. "She was always gracious when sharing her home for special occasions."
Mike Adamy, an employee at Columbus Community Hospital, said Ruby Behlen will be missed as she and the Behlen family were a vital part of the history of the hospital.
"The Behlens have been a strong force behind the hospital since 1965," Adamy said. "Their significant contributions to the foundation have allowed the foundation to create a lasting legacy in their memories. She was a wonderful lady."
Funeral arrangements are pending with Gass Haney Funeral Home.
James Cumming (1867 - 1963)
Mary Ann Moody Cumming (1873 - 1960)
Walter Dietrich Behlen (1905 - 1994)
William Gilbert Cumming (1894 - 1932)*
Robert J. Cumming (1895 - 1959)*
Orville D. Cumming (1898 - 1965)*
Earl G. Cumming (1900 - 1982)*
Ethel J Gustafson (1902 - 1984)*
Leonard D. Cumming (1904 - 1993)*
Roy Glenn Cumming (1909 - 2001)*
Ruby Mae Cumming Behlen (1913 - 2008)
Created by: Don
Record added: Feb 10, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 24522527
Added: Sep. 13, 2012