Peacefully and fully alert, Ruth Karsten passed away with her daughter by her side on Tuesday, December 5, 2017. She left this earth just as she lived on it, calmly, quietly and with no fear.
Born in Jacksonville, Florida Ruth and her family moved to Brisbane, CA in 1939 and later to Burlingame where she graduated from Burlingame High. Before her senior year she decided to become a nurse and took extra classes to fulfill requirements for acceptance at San Jose School of Nursing. At the age of 18, she was recruited and joined the Nurse Cadet Corp which had an accelerated 3 year nursing degree to meet the need for nurses during the WWII. Upon graduation in 1947 she worked at Mills Memorial Hospital in San Mateo. In 1948, while shopping in San Francisco, she stopped into Standard Oil of New Jersey’s headquarters inquiring about overseas nursing opportunities and was advised to go down the street to Aramco Oil which did have foreign job opportunities. Within six months she was hired and boarding a plane for a two-day long journey to nursing positions in clinics in Dhahran and Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia. During this time she met Everett E. Karsten, a fellow Aramco employee and was married in May 1952 in Beirut, Lebanon. They honeymooned through Europe and returned to a 3-floor walkup bachelor pad in New York City. In 1953 they moved to San Mateo, CA where their daughter Mary-Anne was born. Subsequently Everett’s career took them to Los Angeles and then to San Tomé, Venezuela in 1954 and then to the Lake Maracaibo area in western Venezuela, returning stateside for thirteen years and then to the island of Aruba, Netherland Antilles where Everett retired in 1983.
Upon moving to Napa in 1967 Ruth’s volunteer nursing flourished. She worked as a maternity leave replacement at the Napa County Health Department, as a volunteer nurse for the County’s Well Baby program, Senior Blood Pressure Screening Clinics and as a Diabetic Educator and translator with the Queen of the Valley Outreach program. She was the licensed health care provider insuring that Clinic Olé remained open in Rutherford before a medical director could be hired. She spent more than 30 years offering her nursing and translation services to Clinic Olé. Ruth was a diabetic educator for clinics and schools in the area. Although she never wanted any accolades she was named the First Volunteer of the Year 1975-76 in Napa County as well as acknowledged for her community work by California Human Development Corp in 1990. On May 5, 2014 she was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for service in the Cadet Nurse Corps by the U.S. Public Health Service. She was also a devoted worker at St. John’s Lutheran and Faith Lutheran for over 45 years.
Ruth was gentle, caring and provided unconditional support to all who knew her. She lived by the principals of her faith in God. She was a role model for more people that she could have possibly imagined and had a delightful sense of humor. She never placed herself above others, saw the good in mankind and in life, always “made do” with what life offered and adjusted accordingly and managed the challenges of life with dignity and grace. She marveled at the blessings received during her life and thought of herself as ordinary and unexceptional.
She was blessed that in her later years, although not able to continue her volunteer activities, she kept in contact with friends from grammar school, nursing classmates, a multitude of friends from her life overseas and those she met and served here in California.
She will be remembered with love and fondness by many. She was predeceased by her husband, Everett E. Karsten, her son John Emery Karsten and is survived by her daughter, Mary-Anne Karsten, brother, John Roy McMillan, Jr., numerous nieces and nephews and by her “adopted” relatives, the Pabon and Smith families.
Interment will be at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery in Dixon, CA. A memorial service will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Napa, CA in January 2018; the date will be announced later. The family is being served by Treadway & Wigger and memorials can be made in her honor at The Lutheran Hour, Collabria Care Napa, CA or the Salvation Army.