from the December 24, 2002 Skagway News
Elma K. McMillen
Elma Kyle McMillen was born on May 31, 1909 in Thornefield, Mo. to Dr. Ernest Kyle and Kitty Blankenship Kyle. Losing her father when she was nine years old, she and her four younger siblings were reared by their mother.
Elma displayed an early propensity toward teaching, even doing substitute teaching while in high school. After completing her formal education, Elma taught 30 years in the Missouri school system, retiring in 1960.
Moving from Missouri. in 1960, Elma began a new adventure by continuing her career in Alaska. Friends Waneta Coring and Connie Conard invited her to share a home with them until she taught in the Skagway Public School. Elma did that until 1981 when she retired for the second time. Waneta and Connie also retired at that time.
During her time in Skagway, Elma was voted teacher of the year numerous times. She served as past president of Eagles Auxiliary and Worthy Matron of Eastern Star. Elma held several offices at the First Presbyterian Church including deacon, trustee and member of the session. She was chairman of committees for city projects when financial help was needed for the Skagway City Library, Medical Clinic and the School. She was honored for her community service with the Helen B. Clark Award in 1991.
Elma is survived by her son Robert Ross of Harlingen, Texas, five grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren. She died on December 10, 2002, in Whitehorse General Hospital, Canada. A memorial service was held in her honor on December 14 at the Skagway Public School in the Elma McMillen Room. Burial was in the Green Lawn Cemetery in Springfield, Mo. on December 21.
She is deeply missed by her family, friends, former students, and dear friend Connie Conard.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Elma McMillen Scholarship Fund at Wells Fargo Bank Alaska.
Submitted by her family, photo courtesy of Debbie Ackerman
Lynne Margie (Johnson) Ruff
Lynne Margie (Johnson) Ruff of Skagway passed away Dec. 7 in Mesa, Ariz. She was 51.
Born Jan. 24, 1951, in Wayne, Neb., she attended public schools in Nebraska and Bellingham, Wash. Lynne graduated from Sehome High School in Bellingham in 1970, and received her bachelors degree from Western Washington University in 1975. She also took graduate courses at the University of Alaska.
Lynne married Jeff Ruff of Ferndale, Wash., on Aug. 16, 1974. They moved to Skagway in 1976. She taught in the Skagway School from 1976 until 1997, dedicating her skills and enthusiasm to the education of her students.
Since her retirement, Lynne and Jeff have traveled extensively and established a second residence in Apache Junction, Ariz. Lynne was particularly proud of the accomplishments of their daughter, Elizbeth, who was born in Skagway in 1977. Lynne was an outstanding gardener, who had her own greenhouse and won prizes for her flowers and vegetables. She also worked part-time at Miss Kittys ButtonHole during the summer months.
Survivors include her husband, Jeff, of Skagway, who is grateful to Lynne for having shared her life with him; daughter Elizabeth Ruff of Skagway; parents Rex and Marjorie Johnson of Bellingham; sister Pat and her husband Dennis McGuire of Port Townsend, Wash.; brother Steve Johnson of Bellingham; nieces Christine Johnson of Lynnwood, Wash. and Catherine Roosma of Bellingham; and one great nephew and two great nieces.
Her uncle, John Jacobs, played a large role in her life while Lynne and Jeff were in Arizona during the winter months. She also had developed a close bond with her father-in-law and mother-in-law, Pete and Lorraine Ruff of Ferndale, Wash.
Lynne will be missed by family, friends, and former students whom she taught in Skagway.
A memorial service is planned for May in Skagway.
Lynne Ruff memorials may be made to the Skagway School Employees Associaton Scholarship Fund,, Attn: Jo Trozzo, PO Box 497 Skagway, AK 99840.
Submitted by her father, Rex W. Johnson