Ruth Arlene (Coatney) Arnold, 80, of Ottumwa, passed away after an accidental fall in Charleston, SC, on August 16 while on a family vacation to Edisto Island, SC, celebrating her 80th birthday with six family members. The trip was part of a year of celebrations for her birthday milestone, including a family trip to Ft. Lauderdale in the spring and a family reunion over Memorial Day weekend. Additional celebrations were scheduled for the future including a Caribbean cruise and a trip to California.
Ruth was born in Centerville to Jesse and Margaret Adams Coatney. As one of 16 kids in a blended family, she learned how to be an independent woman and the art of getting things done. After a marriage to her first husband, John Daugherty Sr., Ruth married her next-door neighbor, John “Jack” Arnold, for whom she babysat his three kids, on August 18, 1968 taking her on a journey full of the type of love of which one can only dream.
A resident of Ottumwa for over 60 years, Ruth operated a home daycare for over two decades using her unwavering devotion to children to teach them life lessons that impacted them for years to come. To this day, she remained in contact with many of her “baby-sitting kids.” After the daycare, Ruth worked for Roseanne and Tom Arnold with their various Iowa enterprises before wrapping up her career serving others working as a paraprofessional in the Ottumwa Community School District especially with kids with special needs. Ruth was a devoted member of the First United Methodist Church until it closed after which she joined the First Presbyterian Church where she thoroughly enjoyed the congregation and church activities.
Fiercely independent and active to the end, Ruth had a very full life, and refused to be dependent on a cane, walker, or wheelchair in later years. She was a room mother when her kids were in school, Girl Scout troop leader and was active with many community groups, including square dance club, PEO, Court Hill history club, Women’s Club, Beta Sigma Phi, Book Club, and a travel group. She enjoyed vacationing – a LOT of vacationing. Since Jack’s passing in 2015, she continued to enjoy family vacations to destinations including Arizona, Branson, Big Bear Lake, CA, the Virgin Islands, San Antonio, TX, Puerto Rico, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Oceanside, CA, Myrtle Beach, SC, Hawaii, Ireland (where she rang the bells in the steeple of Christ Church Cathedral, walked the dangerous rope bridge Carrick-a-rede, experienced the Cliffs of Moher, kissed the Blarney Stone, and had more than one pint at the various local pubs), not to mention additional yearly trips with her travel group.
Aside from her clubs and travels, Ruth intensely enjoyed the 30 years she had at her lake home at Holiday Lake, Iowa, where she developed lifetime friendships and wonderful memories at the lake, on golf cart poker runs, enjoyed BBQs, listening to the Holiday Lakers garage band, drinking out of a piece of tree bark, Fourth of July celebrations, and the company of many families and friends she hosted at the lake.
Ruth is survived by seven kids, Tom Arnold of California, Lori Arnold (Bill “Woody” Tate) of Ohio, Scott Arnold (Gidget) of Centerville, John Daughtery (Colleen Simental) of Ottumwa, Marla Sugrue (Michael) of Missouri, Chris Arnold (Michael “Mikey G” Godfrey) of Arizona, and Mark Arnold (Sarah Thomas) of Oklahoma); 12 grandkids; 12 great-grandkids; and her sisters, Bonnie Amundson of Arizona and Shirley Fry of Albia.
She was preceded in death by her soul mate and husband Jack, with whom she would have celebrated her 55th wedding anniversary on August 18 and missed terribly; infant daughter, Debra Daugherty; grandson, Spencer Arnold (Mark); daughter-in-law, Linda Daugherty (John); her parents; 13 siblings; and her dogs, Cash and Boo Boo; along with many, many other pets.
Her body has been cremated. Visitation with her family present to greet friends will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, September 15th at Reece Funeral Home.
A celebration of Ruth’s truly remarkable life and the impact her life had on others will be 10 a.m. Saturday, September 16th at First Presbyterian Church with Pastor Bill Hornback officiating. Inurnment will be in Ottumwa Cemetery, followed by a light lunch at the church.
Memorials in Ruth’s honor may be made to First Presbyterian Church, Heartland Humane Society or Whatsoever You Do, Inc.