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Ruth Lillian Behrend

January 30, 2018 GMT

Ruth Lillian (Knutson) Behrend died on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Watertown.

Born on Jan. 26, 1929, Ruth was the youngest child of Clarence and Lillie (Nelson) Knutson of Northfield, Minnesota. Her two older brothers were Maurice and Charles. She would spend her childhood in Iola, staying connected with friends from there throughout her life. Ruth graduated with a degree in economics from St. Olaf College.

While working during a summer in Ephraim, she met Wil Behrend, a student pastor. After graduation from St. Olaf, Ruth and the Rev. Wilbur Behrend were married on June 9, 1950.

Char, Jim, Jeanie and Dan were born while the family lived in Ephraim. Raising her children was one of Ruth’s greatest joys. And she helped influence more than her own children. Ruth and Wil welcomed Turkish exchange student Begüm?en Ergenekon into their home while in Lake Mills.

Ruth was a loving partner throughout Wil’s ministry. They served churches at Ephraim, Madison and Lake Mills in Wisconsin. After ministering in Waconia, Minnesota, they moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Returning to Wisconsin, they purchased a home (for the first time in their lives) in Sun Prairie and eventually retired there.

Wilbur Behrend died on June 6, 2003. Soon after, Ruth moved to Marquardt Manor in Watertown.

Ruth is survived by Charlene Behrend of Golden Valley, Minnesota (and her children Beau, Breanna and Luke); Jim Behrend of Madison (and his wife, Joyce, and sons Jeff, Ross and Keith); Jeanie Behrend of Fresno, California (and husband, Larry Patten); Dan Behrend of Oregon (and children Laura, Nicole and Brady). Great-grandchildren are Breanna’s daughter Avery and Laura’s son Eddie.

Ruth had extraordinary patience, kindness and faith. Because of her love for children, she volunteered and worked at various schools. Whether an elementary student or one of the world-renowned dignitaries she met in her travels, everyone became Ruth’s friend. All were welcomed by her generous and compassionate spirit.

Her memorial service will be at the Watertown Moravian Church on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 11:30 a.m. The Rev. Kurt Liebenow will preside. There are two visitations: on Friday, Feb. 9, at the Lake Mills Moravian Church (5-7 p.m.) and prior to the memorial service at Watertown Moravian (10-11:15 a.m.).

The family requests that donations go to the Marquardt Foundation (Marquardt Foundation, 1020 Hill St., Watertown, WI 53098).

“When I helped God to answer someone else’s prayer, I was the one receiving the greatest blessing.” (From Ruth’s “God’s Mysterious Ways” -- a memory book written for her children.)

Claussen Funeral Home

416 W. Lake St. Lake Mills