M. Ruth Rothgaber, 92, hailed as part of archdiocese's longest-married couple

August 15, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

M. Ruth Rothgaber, a homemaker and opera enthusiast who was honored with her husband last year as the longest-married couple in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, died of cancer yesterday at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. She was 92.

Mrs. Rothgaber was born M. Ruth Anderson in Winthrop, Mass., the daughter of a steamship company official, and spent her early years in Baltimore. She attended the Institute of Notre Dame until her father was transferred to Norfolk, Va., where she graduated from St. Mary's Academy in 1928.

A year later, she moved back to Baltimore and married V. James Rothgaber at St. Ann Roman Catholic Church on Greenmount Avenue.

Mr. Rothgaber, who survives her, is a retired Glenn L. Martin Co. procurement official.

The Parkville residents were honored by Cardinal William H. Keeler in February of last year as being the longest-married couple in the archdiocese - then 71 years - at a World Marriage Day Mass offered at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

Mrs. Rothgaber laughingly told a reporter from the Catholic Review that she had met her husband on a blind date.

She explained her marriage was like most marriages: "It didn't turn out too bad. He's a good guy. We've had our good and bad days, but that's life."

She added, "We had five children, so we couldn't let them go to an orphanage. We had to stick together."

Mr. Rothgaber, a Methodist, also commented on the longevity of the union: "We laugh a lot and I don't worry about anything. If you don't worry, you feel better."

Though her husband had spent his entire career in the aviation field, Mrs. Rothgaber didn't take her first airplane ride until 1971, when she went to Hong Kong to visit a son who was working there, Dennis E. Rothgaber, now of Vancouver, British Columbia.

"She was always fearful of flying but went to Hong Kong. It was her first and last flight," said another son, Robert G. Rothgaber, a retired educator and Baltimore resident.

Mrs. Rothgaber was a longtime communicant of St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church in Overlea, where she had been a member of the choir.

She enjoyed listening to the Saturday afternoon Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts and reading.

Plans for a memorial service were incomplete yesterday.

Mrs. Rothgaber is also survived by two other sons, James R. Rothgaber of Mountain View, Calif., and Paul T. Rothgaber of Baltimore; a daughter, Mary Milroy Stephens of Royal Oak; two sisters, Geraldine McKnight and Margaret Tarrall, both of Norfolk; nine grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

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