Ruth Nelson Fish, 92, Watertown

WATERTOWN, NY — Ruth Mary Nelson Fish, a resident of Ives Hill Retirement Community died on May 23, 2022 at the age of 92.

Ruth was born on July 29, 1929 to Bertha Wilhelmina Johnson and Carl Albert Nelson, and she is preceded in death by her parents and by her beloved husband of 58 years, Dr. James Bartlett Fish, who died in 2009. Ruth and her sister, Betty Jean, were born and raised in Muskegon, Michigan, where her family was active in the Lutheran Church. She earned a commendation for perfect Sunday School attendance spanning from kindergarten through her senior year of high school.

A graduate of Muskegon High School, Ruth was voted “best dressed” by her peers. She matriculated to The University of Michigan where she served as an officer in the local chapter of the Chi Omega sorority. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors in Mathematics and Education in May of 1951. Soon thereafter, on June 23, 1951, she married her high school sweetheart, Jim Fish. Ruth was employed as a teacher in the Ann Arbor, MI school system for several years while her husband completed Medical School, his Surgical Internship, and his residency in Orthopedic Surgery, all at The University of Michigan.

In 1961, Ruth and Jim Fish moved their growing family to Watertown, NY, and Dr. Fish became a founding partner in the North Country Orthopedic Group. Ruth became active in the Hospital Auxiliary, P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization), and her children’s after-school activities. In her retirement years, she served as a Deacon in the First Presbyterian Church of Watertown.

An avid outdoorswoman, Ruth enjoyed skiing, fishing, golf, tennis, and gardening. She loved card games, especially cribbage and poker; her skill at poker and betting earned her the endearing nickname “Dirty Ruth” among her friends. In her later years, she rekindled a passion for Bridge, a game she learned as a child, and became competitive in area tournaments. She was known for her talents in the kitchen: everything from fancy holiday prime rib and yorkshire pudding to casual après ski fondue. She was famous for her pies, especially those made with raspberries or rhubarb from the garden. Throughout her adult life, Ruth played golf and was a regular participant in the women’s league at Ives Hill Country Club. She enjoyed family vacations at Little Kildare in the Adirondacks and weekends at their ski chalet in Turin, NY, where she shared her love of sports and the outdoors with her children and later with her grandchildren. Ruth initiated several family ski vacations to exciting spots like Aspen, Banff, and Zermatt. Once their children were grown, Ruth and Jim traveled extensively, both as a couple and with friends, to places around the world to golf, ski, and explore local cultures.

Ruth Fish is survived by her only sibling, Betty Jean Nelson Bruha of San Diego, CA. She is also survived by her four children: Dr. John M. Fish of Hickory, NC, daughter Cynthia F. Smith and her husband James of Dallas, TX, Dr. Daniel N. Fish and his wife Geraldine of Ridgefield, CT, and Dr. Steven B. Fish and Dr. Claudia B. Fish of Watertown. She was enormously proud of her ten grandchildren: Emily Smith (Amos), Andrew Smith (Jessica), Ellen Smith, Warren Smith, Isabelle Rand (Jacob), Pamela Fish, Jennifer Fish, Alexander Fish, Harrison Fish, and Owen Fish. She has one great-grandson, Cambrian Rex Smith.

The family wishes to thank the kind and steady caregivers from Seniors Helping Seniors who helped make her final years comfortable and entertaining.

Calling hours will be held 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 3, 2022, at Cleveland Funeral Home, 404 Sherman St, Watertown, NY. A private graveside memorial will be held the following day.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Northern New York Community Foundation, 131 Washington St. Watertown, NY 13601 or to the First Presbyterian Church, 403 Washington St., Watertown, NY 13601.

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