Obituary: Ruth Noren

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (June 11, 2015) — Retired Covenant missionary Ruth Noren, 90, died Wednesday night.

Ruth was born on April 30, 1925 to Albert and Signe Lundber in Red Oak, Iowa, where her father was pastor of the Covenant church. She trained at the School of Nursing in Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago to become a registered nurse. She also earned an associate’s degree from North Park College and and diploma from the Department of Religious Education at North Park Seminary.Ruth Noren with parrot 001

She married Edwin Noren on August 11, 1951, when he still had two years left to finish at North Park Seminary. He died in 2012.

In 1953 they were called by the Covenant Annual Meeting to serve as missionaries in the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). At Karawa, Ruth held prenatal and well-baby clinics and taught sewing to school girls. In Businga and Bumba, she taught reading classes (literacy) to women and helped in women’s work in the regions. At Gbado, she taught sewing to school girls, and Bible and domestic arts to the wives of Bible school students. At Goyongo, she taught English to men in the Bible Institute and the seminary, as well as Bible and domestic arts to the students’ wives.

She and Edwin served at Bokada, Karawa, Gbado, Bumba, Goyongo and Businga. She was always ready to help the Congolese nurse in charge of the dispensaries at the four stations where there was no hospital.

Ruth and Edwin retired after 37 years of involvement in the Congo. During those years, due to political unrest and family needs, they served a three-year pastorate in West Bay Covenant Church, Traverse City, Michigan, and later a two-year pastorate in Lake Norden, South Dakota. In retirement, they made their home in Cadillac, Michigan.

After “retiring,” they served eight interim pastorates – two in Ohio and six in Michigan. Ruth enjoyed playing piano and organ and played as needed in churches.

She is survived by Janice (Steve) Quakenbush, Paul (Sheryl) Noren and Dan (Kay) Noren, nine children, and nine great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 16, at First Covenant Church in Grand Rapids. Visitation will be at 10 a.m.

Memorial gifts may be given to Covenant World Mission.




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  • Uncle Ed and Aunt Ruth. I think all the children at the small First Covenant church of Cadillac called them that. They had so many young lives they cared for and dedicated themselves to. I was genuinely blessed to be one of the many. The memories I have of these two truly good humans are accompanied by smiles and gratitude. They will be sincerely missed in this world.

  • Rev. Ed and Ruth Noren possessed exceptional gifts in ministry. They served at the Evangelical Covenant Church of Lake Norden, South Dakota from 1979 – 1981, Mark and Doreen Olson served from 1981 – 1985, I followed them at Lake Norden from 1985 – 1988. The people of Lake Norden were grateful for the loving ministry of Ed and Ruth. May God bless their memory. Rev John P Haag

  • I have fond memories of the Noren family from working some with Ruth when I was a nursing student at SCH and being in Congo in the 60’s. What a legacy Ruth and Ed are leaving with children and grandchildren now carrying on as missionaries in Congo and other places in Africa. My heartfelt sympathy to their families.

    • Lois, Thanks for kindly remembering Mom. I did not know that you knew her prior to Congo. I am so grateful to God that he allowed me to arrive from the Philippines a week before mom’s passing. It has been a time of good rememberings.
      Janice Quakenbush

  • Ruth was a dear person and a treasured colleague. Her smile and encouragement were a blessings to all. Peace to her memory and condolences to her beloved family.

  • My condoleances to Jan, Paul and Dan and their families. I remember Aunt Ruth well as a kind, warm person with a sweet smile. I am so thankful for the “aunts and uncles” with whom I grew up in a community where I experienced love and examples of people with real personalities – and differences – who worked together on behalf of others. I am so thankful for their work. And I am thankful for the generations of Congolese today who continue in that spirit of love for their neighbors – who are different! Peace to her memory – love to you “cousins”!

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