Ruth Aylward Pommer, 87, a longtime resident of Alexandria, and former postmaster of Fulton, passed away peacefully after receiving Last Rites from Rev. Dana Christensen on February 17, 2019, at Firesteel Healthcare Center in Mitchell.
Funeral Mass will be 10:30 am Thursday, February 21 at St. Mary of Mercy Catholic Church in Alexandria. Burial will be in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery at Lennox, SD at 3:00 PM Thursday with fellowship to follow. Visitation will be from 5-7:00 pm on Wednesday with a scripture service at 7:00 pm at the church in Alexandria. Arrangements are with the Bittner Funeral Chapel in Mitchell.
Ruth was born April 21, 1931 to Albert and Katherine (Osterloo) Ludens near Lennox. She was raised on the family farm and attended Lennox schools graduating from high school in 1949, and later taught in a country school.
On April 13, 1950, Ruth married Philip “Boz” Aylward at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Tea. They had six children — Kathleen, Kenneth, Philip, Thomas, Patricia and Teresa and resided over the years in Tea, Sioux Falls, Davis, Wall Lake and Alexandria in South Dakota, and in Wayne, Nebraska. Philip farmed and was longtime custodian of the Alexandria School. Ruth was a homemaker and energetic volunteer in a host of community activities over many years. Philip died in a January 1969 car accident.
Ruth worked at various times as a pin setter, egg candler, teacher, custodian at Alexandria School, pastry cook at Loretta’s Truck Haven and nurse’s aide at St. Joseph Hospital. She was also employed by the United States Post Office at Alexandria, Mitchell and Fulton, and retired as Fulton’s postmaster.
She was a busy civic booster and volunteer, including as a member of the Fulton-Farmer-Epiphany American Legion Auxiliary, Alexandria American Legion Auxiliary post, St. Mary’s Catholic Church (Altar Society and CCD teacher), PTA, National Association of Postmasters of the United States, the National League of Postmasters, and as a volunteer at Hanson Schools and the Sioux Falls Veteran’s Affairs Hospital.
Ruth married Alexandria-area farmer Edwin “Eddie” Pommer on April 27, 1973, at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Emery and later moved with her children still at home into Edwin’s farm home northwest of Alexandria. She later moved to Alexandria when Edwin retired. She remained in the community after Edwin passed away in January 2005.
Over her many years living in the Alexandria area, Ruth worked full time, and she had always been proud of the service nature of her career choices. She was especially proud that her children also chose careers serving others due to the values she instilled in them.
Despite the demands on her time of employment obligations, Ruth still found time to fully appreciate life, enjoying parties, card games, dances and other recreational diversions, with ice cream.
Devout in her Catholic faith, Ruth in recent years regularly donated her time and support to the sisters of the Carmelite Monastery in Alexandria. Ruth also regularly opened her home to pilgrims who came to visit the community’s Fatima Shrine.
But the primary focus of Ruth’s life was her endless loving attention to her large immediate family and her expansive — and continually expanding — extended family. She was the family’s beloved matriarch and the irresistible magnet for spirited annual family gatherings at Christmas (usually held on a day other than December 25 so everyone could attend), Thanksgiving and Easter. The crowded Christmas gatherings of family, spouses, children, grandchildren and friends, always involved a potluck of delicious traditional foods, including oyster stew, and presents for everyone from Ruth.
She had a well-known habit of extravagantly and playfully decorating her house for each season — winter, spring, summer and fall — as well as special days, like Valentine’s Day and Easter Sunday. She also loved to plant colorful flowers around her house in spring and summer.
Ruth was an endlessly curious, well-read person with a passion for learning new things and visiting new places. While well into her 70s, she traveled with her daughter Kate, and son-in-law Ron Aulner, to Saudi Arabia to visit daughter Pat and her husband, Rick Snedeker, who were living and working there. She also went on many bus trips all over the U.S.A.
Ruth is survived by her six children: Kate Aulner (Ron), Alexandria; Kenny Aylward (Candice Walters), Chancellor; Philip Aylward, Alexandria; Patricia Aylward (Rick Snedeker), Mitchell; Thomas Aylward (Linda), Arlington; and Teresa Christensen (Brian), Arlington, twelve grandchildren: Carol Aulner (Scott) Nicholson; Rich Aulner (Bobbie); Gregg (Malinda Young) Aulner; Natasha Aylward (Jeff Sundet); Heidi Aylward Oligmueller (Randy); Heather Aylward Wiese (Aric); Justin Aylward (Margaret); Jeremy Aylward (Andrea); Angie Aylward Gums; Aaron Aylward (Callie); Austin Aylward (Victoria Albrecht); and Brianne Christensen; 26 great-grandchildren and eight great-great-grandchildren, and sister-in-law Peggy Aylward Kemp and brother-in-law Harvey Pommer.
She was preceded in death by her husbands, brothers John and Alvin, sisters Clara and Carolyn, and in-laws Warren Kemp, Ronelle Ludens, Eva Ludens and William and Julie Ollerich.
Condolences may be sent to PO Box 543 Alexandria SD 57311-0543.
Everyone is invited to join the family for a luncheon at the Parish Hall following the funeral mass, and refreshments at the Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, 305 West 1st, Lennox, SD 57039, following the graveside service.