Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Ruth Farnsworth Revisited (with new photos)

Ruth Farnsworth Revisited (with new photos)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 04, 2011

Readers may remember a post from last year about Ruth Farnsworth, the young Latter-day Saint woman who, with her sister Alene, went to Guam shortly after World War II to earn money to support their younger brother as a missionary. Ruth and Alene were the magnets around whom a substantial branch collected on Guam, and they were the catalysts for a branch project to support a young Mexican missionary serving in his homeland. Alene went home in the fall of 1948, with Ruth scheduled to follow in a few weeks in preparation for her scheduled March 1949 wedding. But on the night of December 11, intruders into the shop where Ruth worked abducted and murdered her.

That post attracted an unusual group of readers intimately connected to the story: a daughter of Alene, a nephew of Ruth and Alene, a sister of of one of the men charged with the murder, a daughter, nephew, and granddaughter of Ruth’s fiance, a member of the search party that found Ruth, and another serviceman who had been on the island at the time. All contributed details to the story.

Michele Spangler, Alene’s daughter, has been especially helpful in filling in some blanks and encouraging a preservation of her aunt’s memory. She shared additional details and corrections with me, the most important of which, I think, are that when Ruth was reported missing, Alene flew back to Guam. She was with Ruth at the end, and contrary to my original source, Michele reports that Ruth “did regain her conscious[ness] just long enough to request a Priesthood blessing, after which she fell back into a peaceful coma, until she passed away.”

And Michele has now furnished two photographs of Ruth and Alene; Ruth is on the right in both photos, and Alene on the left. As you can see by these pictures, Alene also was a member of the Women’s Army Corps, following Ruth into the service after returning from her mission to Mexico.

Thanks for putting faces with the names of these two extraordinary young women, Michele.






  1. Ardis,
    It is with great pleasure that I share the pictures of my mom and Aunt Ruth. You have kept thier amazing story and lives in our memories. I hope to someday research enought to produce a book. The Lord will let me know when the time is right.
    Love Michele

    Comment by Michele Spangler — August 4, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

  2. Michele, thank you for adding details to a story about two heroic young women living faithful, active, admirable lives. Ruth’s tragic death seals her testimony of missionary efforts. Bless her.

    Comment by Ellen — August 4, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

  3. Extraordinary.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 4, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

  4. An extremely sad and touching story. I’m glad this update not only helps to keep alive the memory of these sisters, but has also indicated that Ruth attained a measure of peace at the end. That detail is very heartening.

    Comment by Mina — August 5, 2011 @ 9:42 am

  5. It was good to see the pictures, which added to the story. Thanks to Michelle.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — August 5, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

  6. I love those photos.

    I think one of my favorite things about your blog is when the work you have done reaches people for whom the stories are personal. And it’s all the better when they add to what you have done, such as Michele has here.

    Comment by Michelle — August 6, 2011 @ 1:12 am

  7. I was an 8 year old living on Guam when she was killed. I remember hearing the sirens when she was found. I was waiting in our car while my mother shopped. I never forgot about her.

    Comment by linda love hammond — October 4, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

  8. Thanks, Linda. Even small details like your memories help me picture and understand the story that much better.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 4, 2011 @ 8:13 pm

  9. Thank you for this update. I am a great Niece of Herman P. Dennis, we all want the truth even today. May they all rest in peace.

    Comment by Mary White — March 12, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

  10. Amen, Mary. Thank you.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 12, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

  11. I wrote before that I was stationed on Guam when this happened and often think about it. I made a trip back to Guam in 2004 and went to the area that Ruth was murdered and it was mostly jungle now.
    This was the worst criminal case on Guam while I was stationed there. I did not know about Ruth’s family until seeing some of the relatives comments. Also, I did not know what happened to her boyfriend until reading his relatives comments.
    Thank you!

    Comment by Bob Howe — December 6, 2014 @ 7:43 pm

  12. It’s amazing how many people with so many connections have found this and commented. I think you are not the only one, Bob, who remembers Ruth or the crime.

    Nice to hear from you again.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 6, 2014 @ 7:52 pm