Ruth Steel Eppeland, age 97, of St. James, died on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at Pleasant View Good Samaritan Center in St. James.

Ruth Steel Eppeland, age 97, of St. James, died on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at Pleasant View Good Samaritan Center in St. James. Memorial services will be 11:00AM, Saturday, April 28, 2012, at First Presbyterian Church in St. James with Rev. Lowell Knauss officiating. Burial will be at Mt. Hope Cemetery in St. James. Visitation will be at the church on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. You may send the family condolences online at Arrangements are with Sturm Funeral Home in St. James.

Ruth (Frances) Steel Eppeland, the daughter of Roy Warwick and Frances Jennie (Quane) Steel, was born on May 28, 1914 in St. James. Ruth enjoyed growing up in St. James where she excelled in academics and made lifelong friends. Following her graduation from St. James High School, Ruth attended Macalester College in St. Paul, and lived for three years in Carlsbad, New Mexico before returning to St. James where she lived for the remainder of her life. Ruth married Karl Eppeland at First Presbyterian Church in St. James and together they raised their three children. Ruth's 42-year career was spent in the Minnesota court system. Ruth was hired in 1938 as a deputy clerk of district court. She first ran for clerk of district court in 1942 and was elected and reelected to that position until 1974 when she was named court administrator for the Fifth Judicial District of Minnesota. Prior to her selection for that position, Ruth attended and graduated from the Institute for Court Management in Colorado.  She served as court administrator until her retirement in 1980.  In addition to her challenging career in the courts, Ruth was very active in her community. She was the founding president of BPW (Business and Professional Women), was active in several positions in First Presbyterian Church, was a member of the St. James hospital board, Watonwan County Historical Society, St. James Opera House board, VFW Auxiliary, American Legion Auxiliary, Daughters of the American Revolution and Community Pride Committee for the Spirit of St. James. In her spare time, Ruth enjoyed stamp collecting, knitting, sewing, reading, golf and travel.  After retirement, Ruth and Karl enjoyed wintering for fourteen years in Venice, Florida. Although active in both her profession and many committees, Ruth's first love was always her family.

Ruth is survived by son John Eppeland and his wife Myrna of St. James, son Thomas Eppeland and his wife Deborah of Geneva, IL and daughter Karla Viland and her husband Michael of Eden Prairie; nine grandchildren and spouses, Roy (Connie) Eppeland, Christine (Steve) Pitcher, Yvonne (Dan) Gratz, Marie Farley (Tim) Christiansen, Patricia Hudson (Tom Hussey), David (Dawn) Eppeland, Jennifer (Mark) McIlmoyle, Gregory (Jenna) Viland, Ross Viland and eighteen great-grandchildren. In addition to her parents, Ruth was preceded in death by her husband Karl, a son in childbirth, grandson Robert Farley, great-grandson Beckett McIlmoyle and sister Jean Meehan.