Ruth Evelyn Starkey

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Ruth Evelyn Starkey passed away peacefully at Mercy Hospice House on Feb. 8. 


She was born Feb. 25, 1923, to Harvey and Louisa Marie (Miene) Moore, of Luana. She was the sixth of nine siblings in her family. She attended Luana schools and in 1940, married Clifford Starkey. This union produced two daughters, Donna Marie and Linda Kay. She worked during this time as a cook for the Luana Cons. School District, and was one of the first to introduce pizza to a rural Iowa audience. 


In the mid 1970s, she moved to Des Moines, where she met her future partner, Benjamin “Babe” Witten and worked as a cook at the Mitchellville women’s prison. After retiring in the early 1980s, she became involved in the Friendship Force of Greater Des Moines and traveled the globe with her frequent traveling partners Beverly and Bob Merkle, of Des Moines. She served as the first two term president of the Iowa Friendship Force and over 40 countries and six continents. Later in life, she became interested in the genealogy of her family, and spent time studying her family history with groups such as the DAR and DAC among many others. 


She is survived by half siblings Lorna (Dennis) Thompson and Larry (Beverly) Moore; her children Donna (Leroy) Luepker, Dwayne (Susan) Witten and Blake (Janet) Witten; her grandchildren Laurie (Jim) Bowers, Lonnie (Stacie) Luepker, Derek (Sonja) Smith, Jared Smith, Zach (Melissa) Witten, Adam Witten, Alycia (James) Pyle, Adriana Witten, Anthony (Catie) Witten and Amanda Witten; as well as 12 great grandchildren. 


She was preceded in death by her parents; six of her siblings, Bill Moore, Harley Moore, Jason Moore, Delpha Moore Brainard, Verna Moore Lenhart and Virginia Moore Starkey; her daughters Linda Starkey-Smith, Rochelle Witten and Babe Witten.


Memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24, at Luther Park Community Center, 2824 E. 16th Street, Des Moines. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you make donations to either Meals on Wheels or Mercy Hospice in Johnston. In 1973, she donated her body to science at the University of Iowa.

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