Ruth Marie Hakala Gonsalves, beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, died peacefully on Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, in Gig Harbor, Wash., from complications of a stroke and dementia, Alzheimer’s type. She was 85 years old. She passed gently from this earth with her hands being held by her children and one of her favorite songs, Ave Maria, playing softly in the background.
Ruth Hakala was born in Negaunee, Mich., on Jan. 25, 1933, to Viljo and Hilma Ahlfors Hakala. As a young woman fresh out of high school, she traveled to Humboldt County, Calif., with her brother for an adventure. She had an engagement ring on her finger from a boyfriend back in Michigan. She found work at the Scotia Hospital and, shortly afterward, met Luciano Gonsalves at a local dance and, as they say, the rest is history. She did mail that engagement ring back. Ruth and Louie were married on July 17, 1954. As a young couple they worked on family dairy farms, first in Ferndale, Calif., then relocating to own their own dairies in northern California, eventually landing in Montesano, Wash., in 1975. Ruth and Louie had seven children.
Ruth was very active in Grays Harbor County Dairy Women. She was also involved in the Alter Society at St. John’s Catholic Church and sang in the church choir. Mom had a beautiful singing voice, and was talented on the piano. She could listen to a song once and then sit down and play it by ear all the way through. Mom drew well, and dabbled in art classes later in life. She loved working in her garden, especially when grandchildren visited to help weed or harvest. She was known for her fried chicken, Finnish heritage-influenced meat pasties, making animal-shaped pancakes on demand, and her many, wonderful fruit pies.
Ruth was preceded in death by her husband of 52 years, Luciano Gonsalves, who passed away 12 years earlier to the day, on Oct. 12, 2006. She is preceded in death by her parents, Viljo and Hilma Hakala, sisters Alma and Elma, and brothers Viljo and Charles. Ruth is survived by her children Karen Salado of Vancouver, Wash., Jack Gonsalves of Portland, Ore., Judy Gonsalves (and spouse Dan Layland) of Homer, Alaska, Larry Gonsalves (and spouse Debbie) of Santa Clarita, Calif., Frank Gonsalves (and spouse Julie) of Fox Island, Wash., Nancy Kohl (and spouse Clarence) of McCleary, Wash., and Sara Wait (and spouse Steve) of Santa Cruz, Calif. She is survived by enough grandchildren to field two baseball teams: Tony Salado, Steven Salado, Reed Gonsalves, Skyler Gonsalves, Davis Gonsalves, Jonas Gonsalves, Taylor Layland, Lindsay Layland, Nick Gonsalves, Brandon Gonsalves, Devin Gonsalves, Travis Gonsalves, Kylie Gonsalves, Kellen Gonsalves, Kindra Gonsalves, Lauren Gonsalves, Konrad Kohl, Marisa Kohl, Katie Wait and Ryan Wait. She also leaves behind eight great-grandchildren.
Ruth was a warm and generous mother and friend. She enjoyed meeting new people and getting to know them. She smiled often, laughed easily, sang throughout the day during her never-ending chores, and loved us unconditionally. We are all better people for having her as a mother, and we miss her presence, her light, and her laughter. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to any of Ruth’s favorite charities: Grays Harbor Dairy Women, St John’s Alter Society in Montesano, or toward supporting Alzheimer’s research.
Funeral services for Ruth will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, at St. John’s Catholic Church in Montesano, Wash. Visitation/Rosary will be offered first at 10 a.m., with a Catholic mass starting at 11 a.m. Burial at St. Joseph’s cemetery will follow the funeral mass, and a reception at St. John’s Catholic Church hall will be held immediately after the burial. All who knew and loved Ruth are welcome.