One of the last WWII female veterans remembered by Albert Lea community

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(ABC 6 News) – It was a celebration Friday as about 100 people came out to honor 98-year-old Ruth Perry, for a life well lived.

Generous, community-driven, and a life of service; these are just some of the ways people are remembering her.

It was a frigid rainy, day in Albert Lea, but inside the American Legion was filled with warmth as a community comes together to remember the life of Ruth Perry.

“She had a kind spirit, she had a kind soul,” said longtime friend, Wanda Wangsness. “She loved everyone she met, she trusted everyone she met. She helped everyone met.”

Perry was one of the last female veterans of World War II. Enlisting in the Army Air Corps in 1944, three years after one of her cousins died on December 7, 1941, in the Pearl Harbor attacks. She remained in the Air Force for 20 years after the conclusion of the war.

Friends and family are remembering her as a trailblazer of her time.

“So I have a chest from her military years and I spent an entire weekend just going through her photos and all of her awards,” said Diana Palmer, Ruth’s niece. “I probably didn’t even realize how much service Ruth gave to the country until I went through all that, but it was the best, coolest thing that I have ever.”

Perry served additionally in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Friends described her as the first one to offer a helping hand and the last one to leave whenever she was serving others.

“My goodness, what she did for the legion,” exclaimed Deanna L. Luedtke, Chief Warrant Officer of the Albert Lea American Legion. “Once or twice a month they would have a pancake breakfast and she was always the first one here serving on the line.”

Decades later and she continued to serve her community until 2018 when she had one last march as the Grand Marshall for the Albert Lea Hero’s Parade. And now it’s the community’s turn, saluting her and a life well lived.

Ruth Perry is survived by her youngest brother Lawrence and many nieces and nephews.