Obituary: Ruth Barram

PARKSTON, SD (April 15, 2014) — Ruth Barram, 97, a Covenant missionary and widow of Covenant minister Norm Barram, died Saturday.

Funeral services will be held at 7 p.m. tonight at Salem United Church of Christ in Parkston with visitation starting at 5 p.m. A private family burial will be held on Wednesday.

Ruth was born March 4, 1917, to parents who had immigrated from Sweden. She grew up in Los Angeles, where she attended a Swedish Covenant Church congregation.

Ruth graduated from Franklin High School as the class valedictorian, worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad, and then moved briefly to Chicago, where she attended Moody Bible Institute and met her future husband, Norman Barram.

She and Norman were married on August 15, 1943, in Los Angeles.

The couple began their missionary work in the Belgian Congo in 1949. She coordinated the activities of the mission station and started the first boarding school for missionary children.

The Barrams served for 12 years in Congo until they were forced to leave in the midst of a violent upheaval in 1960.

Two years after leaving the Congo, Ruth and Norman moved to Alaska, where he started a seminary for the Covenant Church. While Norm served as the pastor of the Covenant Church of Unalakleet, a village of 600 people, Ruth coordinated the Sunday school. They also were active with the Covenant High School in Unalakleet.

The couple moved to Nome when Norman was appointed the superintendent of the Alaska mission field, traveling extensively to the many villages where the Covenant Church had pastors. They assisted in the work of the Covenant radio station KICY. Eventually they moved to Anchorage, where Norman served as pastor the First Evangelical Covenant Church.

In 1977 Norm and Ruth felt called to the Sioux Falls Covenant Church, where they stayed until 1985. Among their many activities there, the church sponsored a live Christmas pageant at the Hagedorn Farm in Tea, “Journey to Bethlehem,” which was visited by tens of thousands of people over the years.

They stayed in Sioux Falls for eight years until their retirement from the Covenant in 1985.

After their retirement from the Covenant Church, Norman and Ruth were invited to the pastorate of the Bayside Community Church in Valdez, Alaska, where they served until their second retirement in 1992.

Ruth is survived by her two daughters, Ginny Mitchell and Carolyn Larson; and son Bill Barram; a sister, Mae Simonson, seven grandchildren, and fourteen great grandchildren.

Memorials may be directed to the Mission Development SUCC at Salem UCC, 209 W. Teek, PO Box 693, Parkston, SD 57366.

Arrangements by Koehn Bros. Funeral Home.


News Obituary


  • We knew Ruth mostly through her sister Mae. She and Norm had a long and fruitful ministry all over the world. She has left a rich legacy

  • We have met Ruthie only a couple of times but feel we know her because of our dear friend Mae. Ruthie has been a faithful follower of her Lord.
    Please give Mae a hug from us. Our prayers are with you all.


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