By Julie Muhlstein / Herald Writer
Ruth Precht had a favorite saying. People close to her all knew it: “Every day is a better day.”
At Precht’s memorial service Aug. 11 at First Presbyterian Church in Everett, the Rev. Hollis Williams called it “Ruth’s little mantra.”
“Every day’s a better day, it was self-defining,” Williams said. “Ruth was what she did. The list of organizations she supported showed her generosity and involvement.”
“She participated in life to the fullest,” said Connie Wittren, development director for Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County. Precht was devoted to hospice, as she was to many causes.
Ruth Mildred Precht, who lived with her family in Lake Stevens, died July 8 in Everett. She was born in 1914 and graduated from the College of Idaho in 1937.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 55 years, Walter Precht, with whom she operated Challacombe-Fickel and Precht Funeral Service in Everett for more than 50 years.
She is survived by daughters Rosemary Precht Greer and Charisse Precht; granddaughters Michelle Levesque, JoAnne Watts, Emily Rose Precht and Ginger Greer; and great-grandchildren Brandon Levesque and Stacy Watts.
For decades, she was generous with her time and money while also working at the funeral business on Oakes Avenue and California Street. The family “lived over the store,” Williams said. Charisse Precht remembers trying to keep quiet as services were held downstairs.
The scope of Precht’s involvement was covered in a Herald article about her, published Jan. 30, 1965. A quote from that story sums up her philosophy: “I believe one should be busy, interested in those around them and in their community,” Ruth Precht said. “Busy people are happy people.”
She was a board member for Camp Fire Girls and Order of Rainbow for Girls. At First Presbyterian Church, she’d been a teacher, a session secretary and an ordained elder.
She was an officer in Lady Lions, PEO Sisterhood, the Order of the Eastern Star and the Everett Woman’s Book Club. The Zonta Club of Everett, aimed at improving women’s lives, planted a yellow rose in her honor at Legion Park.
Passionate about music, she was a founding member of the Everett Opera Guild and was honored for 60 years of service to Everett Civic Music, which brings top artists to local audiences.
Wittren said Precht was instrumental in raising more than $250,000 for hospice pediatric programs.
“She was probably one of the shrewdest businesswomen I’ve had the privilege of knowing,” said Sue Gammell, who served on a hospice committee with Precht, along with Wittren and Kathy Williams. Precht called them “the girls.”
They worked on Brunch by the Bay, a fundraiser for the hospice Carousel Program. Funds are used, in part, to help dying children stay home. “Friends got the Ruth nudge,” the Rev. Williams said of her fundraising tactics.
The daughter of Benton and Amelia McCoy, Precht was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, and grew up in nearby Filer. She and her husband were childhood friends. She attended the College of Idaho in Caldwell and moved with her husband to Everett in 1937.
During World War II, she ran the business while Walter Precht served in the Navy.
“She was a highlight in my life,” said Jo Ann Burkett, who knew Precht as both a close friend and a customer at her Everett clothing shop, Burkett’s.
Burkett said Precht encouraged friends in all their endeavors. “She always wanted you to raise the bar on everything,” Burkett said. “She never complained. ‘Every day is a better day’ – I heard that so many times,” Burkett said.
Precht wasn’t all business. Wittren said if wine was served at a dinner, friends would find a beer for Precht.
Gammell once picked Precht up for a luncheon in her black Porsche 911. “She said, ‘I look good in this car.’ She asked me if I could call the dealer and see if they have that car in red, and an automatic,” Gammell said.
She delighted in taking friends out for dessert – invariably a butterscotch sundae.
Wittren remembers “Ruthisms.” There was “the horse’s patoot,” and if she heard gossipy comments, it was “meeee-ow.”
“The last years, she was in some pain. Still, every day was a better day,” Wittren said.
“She was always so positive,” Charisse Precht added.
“That’s how she approached life,” Gammell said. “She was a great woman.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460 or email@example.com.