Today (November 22, 2023) the strongest woman we know finally found peace. Ruby Marie Erlitz Fairbank (89) passed away surrounded by family and love in her Alberton home.
Ruby, began her life of adventure, challenges and faith July 11, 1934 on Grandma and Grandpa Doran’s front porch in Stillwater township, Minnesota.
Ruby’s unwavering faith in her Heavenly Father would soon become apparent at the age of 5 or 6. A house fire broke out on a cool Saturday morning, the day before Easter, at the Erltiz family home. The second oldest of eight siblings, saw her oldest sister severely burnt and a physician stated a “higher power” was needed for recovery, Ruby knew just where to turn. As her parents, Albert and Florence were forced to ask family to help in raising and caring for the siblings, Ruby did what we all have seen to this day. She stepped up and did what needed to be done. Through faith, prayer and strength of family and friend, Ruby saw her sister recover and a family was soon all back together.
Throughout Ruby’s life she achieved many things, champion bread maker at the Minnesota state fair, 25 year service award in Girl Scouts were just a couple of many. Ruby did not believe in doing anything half way. Maybe it was her active role in 4-H that was so vitally important in her young years, or co-chair for the Civil Defense for Twin Cities in Minnesota, or President of Montana Landlord Association, Ruby never stopped achieving her goals. These same values she cherished, she made sure to instill in her children and share with others.
A wife, mother, sister, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, great aunt, neighbor next door or Sister Fairbank in the church, Ruby had one small flaw to many, yet a badge of honor to all. If she could find a way, she never would say no.
Ruby married Linden Rechnagel, despite a marriage that did not succeed, the love and respect she always had for her two oldest children Carol Vermillion and Allen Rechnagel never faultered . One true sadness at the time of her passing was she was never able to bridge time, miles and heartache that divorce often causes.
She later married Frances “Gene” Anderson. In 1964, Ruby said farewell to Minnesota, and while extremely pregnant with Terri Milller Knudsen, made the journey to Montana. Fourteen months later, while living in Missoula Tracie (Steven) Powell was born. It was through work connections of Gene, that Ruby met Kelly Fairbank, who would introduce her to the true love of her life.
On October 23, 1967 Ruby and Charles “Murland” Fairbank married. This union of love, friendship and partnership was unconditional. Murland accepted the children, adopting Terri and Tracie, bringing joy, faith and more happiness than she thought possible. After a “romantic” hunting trip to Canada for moose with her new husband, the family settled in the Orchard Homes area of Missoula. It was while in Missoula that Ruby saw her family of four grow into six with two more daughter, Suzanne Turner and Sandra (Robert “Scott”) Plumb.
Now four girls with eight years separating them, Ruby enjoyed her second passion, motherhood, to the fullest. Being as active as possible in school events, be it PTA president, Girl Scouts, or a basketball game she was there.
In the summer of 1978 changes were again happening, as a family of six packed up and moved 15 miles west to Frenchtown Montana where they would reside for four years. Again,the school events of the girls kept her chasing her “yo-yo string”, add to it the rental business that she and Murland were growing, and her church events, she stayed active. Some of her fondest memories were doing dishes while watching the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being built out the kitchen window.
Ruby always was busy…passion for food storage and self-reliance produced bountiful gardens to be canned, wood cutting expeditions often venison to be processed, or her love of fishing, to be frozen.
Her passion of fishing was always apparent within Ruby’s life. Be it fishing at Clark Canyon Reservoir near Dillon, salmon fishing in various salt waters of Washington, or in later years the southern gulf waters of Texas, and she could catch it all, including a seagull on a Rapala lure.
With yet another move to Alberton in 1982, one of Ruby’s dreams to live in a log home came true, along with the beginning of others. From cooking a Thanksgiving turkey on a wood burning stove, to plucking geese in the front yard, the walls of her home were always filled with her love, laughter and faith. It was here more life changing roles would begin.
Ruby's family was always expanding. She would serve a meal and never knew how many “kids” were to be fed, who would be stopping by and more importantly she never cared. Everyone knew only way you ever left Ruby’s table hungry is simple, you didn’t eat enough.
With Murland retired,and their children graduated and on their own, the two soul mates made their journey to Southern Texas. For 18 plus years, Murland and Ruby created memories, of laughter, warm water fishing stories, and a extended family that expanded globally. This became Murland and Ruby's life. When the Texas temperatures rose to warm, the next best thing was to head to the second-best place and that was the “lake”. Flathead Lake has always been a major part of the Fairbank life and it was here she would call home for many summers.
Then, one winter trip south, a light dimmed in Ruby ‘s life. With Murland passing 7 years ago the twinkle in the strong and courageous woman began to flicker. Despite longing for Murland, Ruby still carried on. “Erlitz strong” would soon become a common phrase heard in her home. Gone was her constant companion, friend, and love of over 49 and half years. Still, she carried on with a smile, a determination and the willingness to continue to enjoy life.
Ruby’s love for her Heavenly Father and love for family gave her strength on the cloudiest of Montana days. Knowing that she is now standing with Heavenly Father, Murland and her family was the biggest joy in her later years.
Ruby was preceded in death by her husband, Murland, parents Albert and Florence (Doran) Erlitz, siblings Donna Yarnell, Mary Bridges, Al (Albert) Erlitz, Sally Newville, and John Erlitz. Granddaughter Cheyene McKnight. Surviving with an emptiness and peace of heart are all of her children, Allan, Carol, Terri, Tracie, Suzanne and Sandra---Sisters Patricia Trombly and Nancy (Arnie) Schnieder. Grandchildren: Nick, Jamie, Sean, John, Jessica, Jennifer, Laura, Matthew, Samantha, Kim, Breanna, Storm, Skylar and Grayson. Numerous great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and so many others who just called her mom and grandma.
Ruby lifted spirits, provided laughter, her unquestionable faith, and her never-ending support will be missed…. One person on a Facebook comment wrote: “She was important in lives of so many girls”.
Ruby, you will always be important to all who you touched, gave strength too and lifted up.
A funeral service will be held at 2:00 pm, Saturday, December 2, 2023 at the Frenchtown Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.