Ida Ruth Halsted was born on January 4, 1936 in Huntington, West Virginia to the late Joseph I. and Ruth (Wilson) Duffey. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Marshall University and a PhD in Mass Communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She worked as a nonprofit development professional and as a professor of English and Journalism, most recently at Southern University at New Orleans, from which she retired in 2006.
Ida Ruth loved helping her students learn to write and to find the best in themselves. She loved her family and was generous and quick to offer help in every possible way. She had a special, whimsical way with children, and had wonderful relationships with her grandchildren, with whom she made sure to spend as much time as possible as they grew up. She had a way of finding the best books, the best toys, and the best art materials, and loved giving them to her grandchildren on every possible occasion. And she was the best caretaker for a sick child (or adult) anyone ever had—we all learned from her how to take care of someone in need. She also had a secret (though perhaps not surprising) superpower: she was the best speller you could ever hope to find.
She was a resident of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, and bravely went back to help her university rebuild in the storm’s aftermath. When she was ready to retire the next year, she returned to North Carolina, where her children grew up, and it was there she met her second husband, Russell. Their accidental meeting at a Snappy Lube, subsequent courtship, and near-fairytale marriage full of travel and adventures were an inspiration to many and a reminder that surprises can be found all around you if you just keep an open mind.
Ida Ruth is survived by her husband, Russell L. Halsted of Moreland Hills, Ohio and her two children: Melinda (Barry) Stees of Chagrin Falls, Ohio and John Plymale of Norfolk, Virginia, as well as former daughter-in-law Amy Plymale of Carrboro, North Carolina; and by four grandchildren: Grace (Chris Schnaible) and Madeleine Stees, and Allie and Betsy Plymale; as well as a sister, Patricia D. Keesee of Lexington, Kentucky. She was preceded in death by two brothers, Joseph D. Duffey and C. Robert Duffey, and a sister, Helen D. Phillips.
Services private. The family prefers that those who wish may make contributions in her name to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at https://www.cff.org/donate .