1929 – 2018
Ruth Malena Sellie was born on January 26, 1929 on the family wheat farm near Fessenden, North Dakota, to Conrad and Oline (Ingvaldsen) Sellie, both immigrants from Norway. She was the youngest of her nine siblings – “Baby Ruth”. She graduated from Fessenden High School and went on to Concordia College, graduating with a degree in Home Economics, and a minor in Chemistry. After teaching junior high Home Economics for several years in Minnesota, Ruth discovered Seattle on a trip to visit her sister Signe. She fell in love with the beauty of Seattle and made up her mind to stay, interviewing during her vacation.
When she moved out to Seattle to teach, Signe and her husband Enoch set her up on a blind date with Donald D. Cox, Enoch’s aeronautical engineer colleague at Boeing. A match truly made in heaven; six weeks after their first date, Don and Ruth were engaged. They were married in the chapel at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on November 14, 1953. A year later, her eldest daughter Janet was born, and Ruth became a full-time mother, with the addition of Linda, Nancy and Curtis in the years that followed.
Ruth created the happiest of marriages and family life with her incredible positive attitude, often calling Seattle’s rain “liquid sunshine” and embarrassing her children with the romantic marriage she and Don enjoyed. She and her daughters sewed all their own clothes for years, highlighting her fun sense of fashion and style. She was an original “foodie”, universally admired for her epicurean dinners and holiday celebrations, and remembered by her family for their daily sit-down gourmet breakfasts and dinners. Ruth instilled her amazing ability and love of cooking in all her kids, who carry on the tradition of gathering family and friends for delicious meals in their own lives.
Known for her bright smile, effective organization and hard work, Ruth was an active volunteer in the schools and in community organizations, usually organizing and running major events. She and Don were early and life-long members of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, teaching Sunday School, serving on the Church Council, and hosting many events at their beautiful lakeside home on Mercer Island. They played tennis, a bit of golf, enjoyed skiing and boating, were popular in their dance club, and loved traveling the world. For over 30 years they spent winters in Palm Desert at the Silver Sands Raquet Club where they played tennis and frequently entertained their large group of close Seattle friends.
When Curtis reached his teens, Ruth began a new chapter as a top realtor on Mercer Island. Starting at the Maloof brokerage, she soon moved to Coldwell Banker and became one of the most successful realtors on Mercer Island for over 25 years. It was a profession ideally suited to her love of people, intelligence, and drive. She always negotiated with a smile and often ended up with return customers who became her friends.
Ruth was widowed in October of 2000, when her beloved husband Don died of pancreatic cancer. She continued her busy social life, living five months a year in Silver Sands and traveling around the world with her grown children and her friends. She above all loved being the fun grandmother to her eight grandchildren and followed their activities avidly. No one has ever had a bigger fan than Ruth.
Ruth passed away peacefully on September 22nd at the age of 89 from complications of Parkinson’s disease at her residence in Mirabella, Seattle. She is survived by her children, Janet Cox Vehar and her husband Gordon of Moraga, California; Linda Cox Fornaciari and her husband Bert of Portola Valley, California; Nancy Cox MacPherson and her husband Roger of Sammamish, Washington; and Curtis Vaughn Cox and his wife Sarah of Mercer Island, Washington. She also is survived and was beloved by her eight grandchildren, Kevin Vehar, Julia Vehar, Jack Fornaciari, Carol Fornaciari, Jordan MacPherson (and husband Rob Read), Chris MacPherson, Tyler Cox and Caitlin Cox.
Ruth’s radiant smile, quick wit and genuine happiness will be greatly missed. In her memory, please take the time to be with family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers contributions to the educational organization of your choice, as education was a primary focus of Ruth’s life.
Celebration of Life Service: Saturday, October 27, 2018 at 4pm, with a short reception to follow at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 8501 SE 40th St., Mercer Island, WA.