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Ruth Malissa Roby Leppla
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Birth: Feb. 17, 1900
Woods County
Oklahoma, USA
Death: Jan. 9, 1935
Maricopa County
Arizona, USA

Ruth Malissa (Roby) Leppla was my paternal grandmother. I never met her, but I remember her mother, Lettie Frances “Fannie” (Williams) Roby. We called her “grandma Roby”. If Ruth was anything like her mother she would have been loved by all children.

Ruth Roby Leppla was born on February 17, 1900 in Alva, [Woods County], Oklahoma [Territory] to Bert Roby and Frances Williams, according to her death certificate available through The 1900 US Census Report shows the family living in Fritzlen, Oklahoma, (about 2 miles from Alva, OK), where the father, Bert, farmed for a living and owned his own property. Household members listed on this report are: Bert age 27, Fannie age 19, Nellie age 1, Ruth age 3/12, Frank age 23 [Bert’s brother, Franklin D. Roby], and Randall Reynolds age 17 (listed as a white male servant).

According to a US Consular Registration Certificate, available through, the family lived in Durango, Mexico beginning on May 11, 1907 and planned to stay in Mexico for two years. Their prior residence was listed as Alice, Texas and the father’s business in Mexico was “mining”. Family members listed were: Bert Roby b. 1871 in Morrow County, Ohio; Fannie Williams b. in Bates County, Missouri; Nellie b. June 3, 1898 in Woods County, Oklahoma; Ruth b. February 17, 1900 in Alva Oklahoma; Mabel b. March 11, 1902 in Alva, Oklahoma; Helen b. August 8, 1905 in Antesia, New Mexico; Cathryn b. March 9, 1907 in Alice, Texas.

By 1910 the family had moved to San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas as shown in the 1910 US Census Report with the following household members listed: Bert age 38, Fannie age 29, Ruth age 10, Mabel age 8, Helen age 4, Kate age 3, Bert Jr age 4/12, and Rosa Bowden age 24 (listed as a black female servant). The father’s occupation was listed in this report as “miner”. Ruth’s sister, Nellie, was no longer with the family due to her death on September 4, 1908; source - memorial #80653229. It is unknown where the sister, Nellie, may have died but she is buried at Alva Municipal Cemetery, (the same cemetery where her paternal grandparents, Thomas Benjamin and Melissa Mae (Maxwell) Roby, are buried).

Ruth's parents, Bert Elsa Roby, Sr. and Lettie Frances "Fannie" (Williams) Roby, had 10 children in all:
Nellie Pearl b. 1898 OK d. 1908 OK
Ruth Malissa b. 1900 OK d. 1935 AZ
Mabel Fern b. 1902 OK d. 1931 AZ
Helen Marie b. 1905 NM d. 1990 NV
Dorrys Cathryn "Kate" b. 1907 TX d. 1943 AZ
Bert Elsa Jr. b. 1910 TX d. 1997 CA
Dorothy Frances "Dot" b. 1912 TX d. 2005 CA
Marjorie Lou "Margee" b. 1915 TX d. 2003 WA
John William "Jack" b. 1921 NM d. 1996 WA
David Franklin b. 1927 AZ d. 1990 MT

In 1919 Ruth was a sophomore at Baylor College for Women in Belton, Texas according to the 1918/1919 yearbook, available at A story in the yearbook describes the class the year before when they were freshmen and Ruth Roby was elected president, Elsie Mansker Vice-President and Amy Bell Johnson elected Secretary-Treasurer of the class.

The 1920 US Federal Census Report shows the family living in Heard, Maricopa County, Arizona; an area that is part of Phoenix today. Household members on the report include: Bert age 49, Fannie age 39, Ruth age 20, Mabel age 17, Helen age 14, Kate age 12, Bert [Jr] age 10, Dorothy age 7, Margery age 4 ˝, Grace Dodson age 17 (listed as a white female boarder), and Gustavos Gates age 22 (listed as a white male hired man).

Ruth attended The University of Arizona from 1920 to 1922 during which time she probably met her husband to be, Henry "Lorain" Leppla II; both attended the university during that time, according to US School Yearbooks 1880-2012 available at Both Ruth's father and Lorain's father were investors in various mining ventures, so this might also have been the common ground that caused them to meet. Ruth finished her degree and became a teacher for a number of years before marrying and having children, according to family lore, which also says that the oldest child of the family was expected to help his/her next youngest sibling through college, then that child would help the next child, and so on; and Ruth having fulfilled her obligation married Lorain Leppla. I heard this story in about June of 2015 from my aunt Fanchon; Ruth's second child.

Ruth Malissa Roby and Henry Lorain Leppla II married on January 20, 1925. Together they had two children:
Henry (no middle name) III b. 1927 AZ d. 2013 AZ
Fanchon (no middle name) b. 1929 AZ

Ruth used the designation of the "III" for baby Henry even though he wasn't given the middle name of "Lorain" as his father and grandfather were. There was a little discussion in the family about that choice; written down by Ruth in Henry III's baby book. Other family members wanted little Henry to carry on the middle name, Lorain: The name was in memory of the area of France that the ancestor, Jacob Leppla, was said to have come from.

Ruth's unexpected death in January of 1935 of pneumonia at such a young age, only 35, leaving the two children motherless at the ages 8 and 6 years old, was spoken about for years to come. I was born in 1953 and the devastation on the family was still spoken about as I grew up. Her death followed on the heals of the death of her children's beloved grandfather, Henry Lorain Leppla I, (Ruth's father-in-law); an accidental drowning at San Carlos Lake near Globe, Arizona just 3 months earlier in October of 1934.

I didn't know my grandmother Ruth, but reading the things she wrote in my father's baby book and looking at pictures of her has helped me to form a idea of what she might have been like. I see her as somewhat shy when she was young, (perhaps only camera shy). She appears to have grown up into a fun loving person - as seen by the fashions she wore for an Independence Day celebration and again with friends all dressed in soldier uniforms posing around a fighter plane. The family story goes that she actually got to fly in the plane, but no one remembers who with. I think it may have been her half uncle, her mother's half brother, Capt. Isaac Jackman Williams who was a pilot in the army. Ruth seemed to enjoy the new breezy fashions with the drop waiste of the early 1920s; very nicely shown off in her wedding photo.

Ruth Malissa (Roby) Leppla died of pneumonia on January 9, 1935 just one month and 8 days shy of her 35th birthday. She is buried in the Leppla family plot at Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery.

bio by: Mary Ann Leppla b. 1953
Family links: 
  Bert Elsa Roby (1870 - 1944)
  Lettie Frances Williams Roby (1881 - 1968)
  Henry Lorain Leppla (1899 - 1966)
  Henry Leppla (1927 - 2013)*
  Nellie Pearl Roby (1898 - 1908)*
  Ruth Malissa Roby Leppla (1900 - 1935)
  Mabel Fern Roby Grasmoen (1902 - 1931)*
  Helen Marie Roby Gould (1905 - 1990)*
  Dorrys Cathryn Roby Hess (1907 - 1943)*
  Bert Elsa Roby (1910 - 1997)*
  Dorothy Frances Roby Castleberry (1912 - 2005)*
  Marjorie Lou Roby Hayes (1915 - 2003)*
  John Williams Roby (1921 - 1996)*
  David Franklin Roby (1927 - 1990)*
*Calculated relationship
Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery
Maricopa County
Arizona, USA
Maintained by: Mary Leppla 53
Originally Created by: Carl Steiger
Record added: Jul 10, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 54768588
Ruth Malissa <i>Roby</i> Leppla
Added by: Mary Leppla 53
Ruth Malissa <i>Roby</i> Leppla
Added by: Mary Leppla 53
Ruth Malissa <i>Roby</i> Leppla
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Though I never knew you, grandmother, I love you.
- Mary Leppla 53
 Added: Nov. 20, 2015
Rest in peace, Ruth.
- Renata
 Added: Oct. 1, 2013

- Carl Steiger
 Added: Nov. 23, 2012

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