School 06

Ruth K. Bertolaet

September 10, 1926 ~ November 21, 2020 (age 94)


Ruth K. Bertolaet, 94, of Whitewater, WI, passed away due to COVID-19 on Saturday, November 21, 2020 at Fairhaven Senior Services in Whitewater.

Ruth was born on September 10th, 1926 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the daughter of Elmer and Esther (Protzmann) Krahn. She grew up in the Milwaukee area and attended the University of Wisconsin Whitewater graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching. While at UW- Whitewater, she met Frederick W. Bertolaet, and the two were united in marriage on June 16th, 1951. Ruth and Fred were blessed with 68 years together until Fred’s passing in August of 2018. Together they had four children, Bobbie, Todd, Becky and Bonnie. Ruth worked as a kindergarten teacher for the majority of her working career. She took pride in instructing young people during their formative years and was a source of tremendous support for the families of the children she taught.

Ruth was extremely proud of the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin that she grew up in and that her parents were so dedicated to see thrive. She was equally passionate about the community of Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she and Fred spent 40 years of their married life raising their children, grandchildren and taking advantage of all that the vibrant university town has to offer. Ruth loved drama and music for the entirety of her life, both as a participant (she played both piano and cello) and as an enthusiast. She continued to give dramatic readings until recently when her eyesight made it too difficult to do so. Both Ruth and Fred were also deeply committed to civic engagement, political campaigns, and numerous causes and social justice efforts throughout their lives. Ruth modeled what she believed, one example being that she ran local polling places for decades where she thoroughly enjoyed seeing the university students involved in the democratic process.

Ruth was most proud of her children and grandchildren and the home she created with Fred. She was happiest and most fulfilled when spending time with those she loved. She was a great mother and always made sure her family and friends were well taken care of and had plenty to eat. Ruth loved all of the holiday seasons so much so that many of their children’s friends described Fred and Ruth, in their older years, as Santa and Mrs. Claus! She also enjoyed traveling with her family and learning about the different traditions of other cultures. She will be dearly missed by those she leaves behind.

She is survived by: her children, Bobbie Bertolaet of Ann Arbor, MI, Todd (Joan) Bertolaet of Tallahassee, FL, Becky (Jim) Sallade of Cedar Creek, TX, and Bonnie (Martin Seidel) Bertolaet of Concord, MA; her dear grandchildren, Erica (Alan Hedgepeth) Diels of Janesville, WI, Aaron Diels of Ann Arbor, MI, Emma Bertolaet of Birmingham, AL, Nora (Chris) Clark of Tallahassee, FL, Alex (Max Miller) Sallade of Dallas, TX, Alma Bertolaet of Atlanta, GA, Kelsey (Mike) Sherman of Austin, TX, Olivia Seidel of Concord, MA, and Griffin Seidel of Concord, MA; and a great-grandchild, Remy Sherman of Austin, TX. She is also survived by a number of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

Ruth is preceded in death by her parents, and her loving husband, Dr. Frederick W. Bertolaet.

Ruth’s family will hold a private service in her honor at a later date.

Gibson Family Funeral Homes of Palmyra & Eagle, WI is serving the family. To place an online condolence please visit

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