It was on the 12th day of March, 1958, when two women found themselves roommates at Cimarron Memorial Hospital in Boise City, Oklahoma. Both were nervously waiting to deliver a newborn into the world.
The first baby, born to parents Bob and Barbara Tapp, was a boy. Within a couple of minutes the doctor then delivered a little girl into the arms of her parents. Thus began the miracle that would only be realized decades later.
The baby girl was named Mary Ruth. Her parents were Kenneth Mark and Willie Lee (Alexander) Arnett. And waiting to see his tiny sister when they got her home was her big brother, Keith.
Mary Ruth's childhood was one of love and learning. Her mom taught her manners and graciousness, her dad instilled discipline and shared his love of flying with her, and her pet name was "Sissy". She admitted she was a tomboy and found delight playing with the rough and tumble neighbors, the Wheeler twins, although that led to them accidentally starting a fire on the old golf course, and her being jailed in their horse trailer a couple of times. When recalling those childhood antics, Mary Ruth would laugh as only she could, from the belly and from the heart.
Mary Ruth matriculated through the grades of Boise City Schools. In the first through third grades one of her classmates was a boy named Bob Ed Tapp. Mary Ruth made an impression on him when the class gave examples of homonyms. Hers was 'tap' and 'Tapp'. Little did she or he know that giving that example was quite foretelling.
Mary Ruth's tomboy youth gave way to a beautiful, articulate and stylish teenager by the time she graduated in 1976. Along the way she garnered many awards and accolades - all of which she accepted with humility, grace and humor. From Student Council to Band Queen, from Drum Majorette to a munchkin in 'The Wizard of Oz', from Class VP to Miss BCHS, from ‘Teachers Pet’ to ‘Most Congenial and Witty’, from Track to becoming a valuable guard on the Varsity Basketball team. And most importantly, she was a true friend to her classmates, always striving to put others at ease and ready with a quip that brought smiles and laughter.
Always interested in photography, Mary Ruth went to work for Blunk's Studio, taking class photos around the state. Eventually she would gain her Bachelor of Science degree at Panhandle State University, graduating in 1985 with the major in Psychology.
That was the year when tiny pieces of that long-ago miracle all came together in Mary Ruth's life. Her lifelong friend, Shelley, happened to have a cousin named Bob Ed Tapp who had recently returned to Boise City. She suggested he should call Mary Ruth for a date, not realizing she had become matchmaker for two of her favorite people. The baby boy and girl born just minutes apart in 1958 were joyfully married at the altar of the First Baptist Church in Boise City on August 31, 1985.
Mary Ruth began waitressing at Sheen's, a local restaurant. She enjoyed that time spent working alongside her cousin Charlene, cutting up as they waited on folks, even when she was 8 months pregnant.
Then came the patter of little feet. When Kenny Bob, then LeLayne and finally Joshua were born, Mary Ruth embraced her role as both mother and role model. She and Bob Ed chose to homeschool the trio, a decision which enriched their children's lives and minds. Giving them many memories of working together, it also gave the family a community of like-minded friends.
A natural at research and independent thinking, Mary Ruth would continue her own education as the years unfolded. She studied the viability of essential oils and used them, delved into the world of political thinking, trained her children on the art of debate and immersed herself in the scriptures of the Bible and the circular Hebrew way of thinking. She loved Yahshuah and gave herself completely to the working of God's ultimate will in her life.
Mary Ruth also learned the art of being a rancher, and a rancher's wife. She climbed on the back of horses, helped birth and care for calves and baby goats, grew gardens and canned the bounty, fed many hungry folks her famous chicken fried steak and sweet potato pie, and graciously accepted her husband's suggestion that she make chili using his mom's recipe.
Mary Ruth patiently and energetically nurtured her children's individuality. When Kenny Bob decided to run in a State House race in 2014, she became his ally, coach and campaign manager, traveling hundreds of miles with him and knocking on many doors. When LeLayne needed an understanding counselor or a shoulder to cry on, it was Mary Ruth's arms which held her. And in Joshua, Mary Ruth saw her own quirky sense of humor. Even when at the age of around 10, when they were passing over the railroad crossing on the way home, he loudly blew his harmonica, almost sending Mary Ruth to the ditch as she first screamed and then dissolved into a bout of giggles.
Mary Ruth's legacy was shown when her children described their mother. "She was an amazing woman, very patient, with a forgiving spirit, gracious and longsuffering. She understood brevity and humor. She loved us unconditionally." They also noticed that wherever they went, Mary Ruth had the natural ability of making friends and was so easy to talk to.
Family was the focus of Mary Ruth's life. One of her mottos was "Take care of people when you can and love them where they are". Before her father's death, she faithfully helped her mother care for him. Then when her mother began having health problems before her death, Mary Ruth was her willing and loving caregiver and best friend. In return, when Mary Ruth was in great need of that same help and understanding, her children and husband rallied at her side, honored to be doing all they could to make her comfortable and letting her know and feel the abiding love they had for her. And through it all, always at Mary Ruth's side was her furry and faithful sidekick and 'son', Groucho.
During a conversation with her best friend two days before her death, Mary Ruth softly declared that only one thing matters in the end. "It is all about love, love, love and more love. Amen."
Mary Ruth (Arnett) Tapp was, in the words of her son, Kenny Bob, "the embodiment of faith and salvation for 61 years, a beautiful wife to Bob Ed for 34 years, an exceptional mother for 32 years, and an awesome Safta for 6 years to her grandchildren”.
Mary Ruth slipped from the bonds of this earth early in the morning of October 24, 2019, at Cimarron Memorial Hospital. By her side, just as he was the day they were born, was Bob Ed, her faithful husband and companion.
Preceding Mary Ruth in death are her parents, Kenneth and Willie; older stillborn sister Cherry; her in-laws Bob and Barbara Tapp; grandson Jonathan Tapp and granddaughter Baby Sparrow Smith; many aunts, uncles and cousins whom she dearly loved.
Those who remain to pass on her legacy and keep her memory alive are her husband, Bob Ed; her son Kenny Bob and wife Rachel, granddaughter Devorah; her daughter LeLayne Smith and husband Craig, granddaughter Kimberlyn Ruth; her son Joshua and wife Rachael, granddaughter Hadassah, grandsons Levi and Gideon and baby on the way; her brother Keith and wife Alisa and family; sister-in-law Lu Ann Albus and husband Steven and family, and many relatives and friends who were truly blessed to know her.
Visitation Services will be held from 2:00 pm - 7:00 pm on Sunday, October 27, 2019 at Henson~ Novak Funeral Directors in Boise City.
Graveside services will be held at 10:30am on Monday, October 28, 2019 at Garrett Cemetery, located 12 miles north of Boise City. The ceremony will be open to the public. A memorial service will follow at 2pm at First Baptist Church in Boise City, Oklahoma.
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