Franklin Keith Ruther, age 90, of Mena, Arkansas passed away Friday, February 16, 2018 in Mena.
He was born in Sparks, Nebraska on April 25, 1927 to the late Frank Thomas Ruther and the late Dorothy Schroeder Ruther. He grew up working on his parents’ farm with his brother Gene, caring for animals, crops and the land. He was a country boy at heart and his strong work ethic continued throughout his life. He was an excellent student and loved sports, especially basketball which he played in high school. After graduating high school, Keith joined the Merchant Marines and served during World War II visiting many interesting ports in the Pacific. Upon returning to Nebraska he married Vivian Burns Ruther and they have been lovingly married for 69 years.
After several years of running a fox farm, Keith moved his family, which now included two young boys, to the Wichita, Kansas area. Keith and Vivian raised their boys in Derby, Kansas and lived in the area for over 30 years. Keith was an aeronautics technician by profession, working for Boeing and Sperry. But he always made time for horses and a garden. In the 1980s, he started buying, raising and training miniature horses. He retired to Mena, Arkansas in 1989 and, together with his wife, created a nationally known and well-respected miniature horse farm operation. Their horses were shown all over the country and were awarded numerous prizes and awards, including the National Reserve Champion in 1992.
Keith was very artistic, creating beautiful wood carvings. He was also musical and loved to sing and play the organ and guitar. He and Vivian traveled to all parts of the United States and to Europe and Mexico. But his favorite place to be was home, in Polk County, with his family and friends. He was a loving and kind, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle and friend.
He is survived by his wife Vivian Ruther of Mena, Arkansas; two sons Chuck Ruther of Wichita Kansas and Greg Ruther of Salt Lake City, Utah; nine grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren, a host of nieces, nephews, family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Dorothy Ruther and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral service will be Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. at Cherry Hill Methodist Church in Cherry Hill. Interment will follow in the Cherry Hill Cemetery in Cherry Hill, Arkansas under the direction of the Beasley Wood Funeral Home of Mena.
Family and friends visitation will be Friday, February 23, 2018 at 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Beasley Wood.
Pallbearers will be Fred Burns, Lee Fountain, Troy Lunsford, Trey Lunsford, Dave Werner and Frank Davis.
Honorary pallbearers will be Lawrence Philpot, Rex Burns and Tim Ruther.