Francis Ruiter



Francis was born in the village of Andijk, Netherlands, to Gerrit Ruiter and Alida Lieuwen. The tenth child in a family of twelve siblings, he grew up in a house of prayer, hymn singing and reading the bible aloud. He was a beloved son in a loving household.

Francis was a young teenager when German soldiers occupied the Netherlands, thus many of his formative years were lived during the second world war. Like his four brothers, as a lad Francis worked in his father’s seed and tulip bulb business. He had a deep wanderlust however, and, shortly after the war, a month before his twentieth birthday, Francis and two of his cousins immigrated to Canada. He worked hard for several years at various jobs, including as a farm hand and labourer in the bush of Northern B.C, telegraph operator for the Canadian National Railway, taxi driver, and seed salesman. These experiences, along with his outgoing personality and genuine interest in people, eventually led to a successful career as a Life Insurance Advisor.

In 1955 he met and fell helplessly in love with the newly immigrated Grace Vriend. They were married February 17, 1956 in the Beverly Christian Reformed Church (now known as Maranatha CRC). Grace and Francis raised three daughters, Linda Ruiter (David Koopmans), Carolyn (Phil) Tiemstra, and Marianne (Doug) Smith and welcomed 8 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.

Francis was a good provider for his family. He loved us dearly and would happily do almost anything for his wife and daughters if it was in his power to do it. He strived to do his best, encouraged his children and grandchildren to do the same and cheered our endeavors. He was very involved in his church community and a tireless advocate for Christian education. He was a great adventurer, ever searching for new learning experiences. He travelled extensively to places around the world. His wilderness adventures included back-packing, canoeing the Coppermine River and a wildflower identification course with the Alpine Club of Canada. He was a marathon runner, cyclist and swimmer. One of his proudest achievements was returning to school in his fifties and earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in history.

While Francis frequently roamed solo, some of his greatest joys were travelling with Grace, sharing his passion for the backcountry with his daughters and introducing them to the beautiful country of his birth. We cherish our memories of these shared experiences.

We loved him dearly and are sad at his passing but we rejoice that he is released. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2010, the last years of his life were not easy. Towards the end of his life, he was able to function mostly due to the loving care and protection of Grace, his anchor. His language center was deeply affected and communication with his loved ones was primarily through touch and gesture. While he could no longer pray with words, he was, however, able to make it abundantly clear that he was ready to be released from this world. He wanted to go to heaven.

Francis’ father, Gerrit, once mused about his son, “Francis is like a bird, you cannot keep him in a cage.” In death, the spirit of our dear husband, father, and grandfather, Francis, finally soars free. For this our hearts are glad.

He was predeceased by 10 of his siblings. Besides his wife and daughters and their families, he leaves behind his sisters, Marie Uitvlugt and Caroline Ruiter.

A virtual Memorial Service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, January 22, 2021. To attend please visit the link will be posted on the homepage.

Gifts of remembrance can be directed to Citizens for Public Justice, The King’s University, or World Renew.

Isaiah 40: 31 “Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles…”

In Loving Memory of
Francis Ruiter
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Funeral Service:
Memorial Service
Friday, January 22, 2021
3:00 PM
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Little Mountain Cemetery
16025-50 Street
Edmonton, AB
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