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Alma Rueter-Phillips

Alma Rueter-Phillips, 94, a lifelong resident of Norborne, passed away on Monday, Dec. 1, 2008, after a brief stay at Shirkey Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Richmond. The past few days of her life were spent in the presence of family members, special friends from Ray County Home Health and Hospice and staff from Shirkey’s.
Alma was born Oct. 20, 1914 in rural Norborne and spent most of her 94 years living in the Norborne area. The oldest of five children of Albert and Melvenia Leakey Rueter, she attended Trinity Lutheran School and Norborne Public School. After high school graduation in 1932, she attended Northwest Missouri State Teachers College and Central Missouri State Teachers College and completed her county teaching certificate. Alma taught in one-room country schools in the Norborne area for five years. She spent two years at Stamm School and two years at Nimrod. The president to the school board at Stamm, Robert Phillips, who later became her father-in-law, recruited her to return to Stamm. She was given an incentive bonus of $5 per month to be the janitor as well, raising her monthly salary to $45.
She was united in marriage to Robert “Mike” Phillips on Sept. 23, 1939; he preceded her in death on Oct. 19, 1992. To this union were born three sons, Richard, Gary and Ted. Mike and Alma spent 53 years together, with 30 of those years managing and living on the Phillips Family Farm north of Norborne. During the last few years of their married life, Mike and Alma took numerous road trips to visit places of interest in the United States.
Her stories of childhood experiences with neighbors and friends, and of teaching in a one-room school provided much entertainment and a blueprint of life in the Norborne area during the depression era. Being a teacher without text books and appropriate learning material, created a spirit to “make-do” using homemade learning tools. Pumping water from the well each morning and in the winter, getting to school early to start the fire in the only stove, provided many interesting experiences. For her three grandchildren that are now teachers, those stories provided a rich history of teaching in rural Missouri 70 years ago.
Alma was a consummate homemaker, becoming a skilled seamstress making doilies, quilts and numerous mementoes for her grandchildren, other family members and friends. Alma’s kitchen was a special place not to be invaded by others. She took great pride in her culinary skills and had scientific measurements of a “dash of this and a dash of that.” Her flowerbeds reflected her painstaking efforts to have “things look right.”
Alma was a lifelong member of the Trinity Lutheran Church of Norborne.
Survivors include: two sons and one daughter-in-law, Ted Phillips of the home, and Richard Phillips and his wife, Charlotte, of Lake Tapawingo; grandchildren, Tammy and Kyle Bopp, Mike and Holly Phillips and Stephen Phillips; one sister, Dora Wampler of Tina; great-grandchildren, Kaylee Siegfried, Savannah and Alivia Bopp, Ethan and Lauren Phillips and Lydia Phillips; and a host of nieces and nephews.
In addition to her husband and parents, Alma was preceded in death by one son, Gary in 2000; her brother, Elmer Rueter in 1986; sisters, Mildred Rueter Rex in 2006, and Esther Rueter Porter in 2007.
The family suggests memorial contributions be made to Children’s Mercy Hospital, Resource Development Office in memory of Alma.
Visitation will be from 10 to 11 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 4, at the Norborne Trinity Lutheran Church. Funeral services will follow the visitation at 11 a.m., at the church. Burial will be at the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery.
Arrangements are under the direction of Thurman Funeral Home in Norborne.

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