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Ruth Nielsen

Nielsen, Ruth Thøger, 96, born May 28, 1925, in Copenhagen, Denmark, died peacefully on February 18, 2022, at her home in Candler, N.C. She was raised in Copenhagen, the oldest of four girls. She attended the Danish Adventist high school, Vejlefjord, where she worked her way through school and graduated in 1944. While attending a summer camp to learn about literature evangelism, a young man, Louis Christian Nielsen (1924-2016), caught her eye. On May 6, 1946, they were married in Stockholm, Sweden, spending their first year of married life canvassing the countryside. Returning to Denmark, Ruth settled into life as a pastor’s wife.

In 1952, they immigrated to the United States where she worked in a local hospital and Louis earned a B.A. in theology from Emmanuel Missionary College, Berrien Springs, M.I. and a M.Div. degree from the seminary in Takoma Park, M.D., where he was ordained. After much prayer they accepted a call to be missionaries to West Africa, in 1958. Together, they served in Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. They returned to Andrews University (AU) in 1965 so that Ruth and their four young children could receive an American education.

Ruth earned a B.A. in Home Economics from AU in 1968, and a master’s degree in Human Environment and Design, Textiles and Clothing from Michigan State in 1974. She became an instructor in the Home Economics Department at AU in 1968-69 and an assistant professor from 1970-77. She was acting chair of the department her last year.

During her tenure she led several home economics tours to Europe. In 1977 Ruth and Louis accepted a call to return to Denmark and served at Skodsborg Sanitarium. Ruth was the Director for the Chef’s school and Sanitorium Hostess, and Louis served as church pastor, sanitorium chaplain, and Bible teacher.

In 1981 they returned to Africa where they built and established a mission school in Gambia. Soon they were called to serve at Bugema College, Uganda. In completing their service in Africa, Ruth and Louis operated an orphanage (Les Esperance) on the shores of Lake Victoria, Uganda for AIDS children. Finally, in 1994, they moved back to the United States and retired in Candler, N.C., becoming members of the Mt. Pisgah Academy Church. Ruth, in partnership with Louis, developed a botanical garden and a 5-acre animal farm for their grandkids and the youth of the church.

Her interests included: community service, international travel; needlepoint, reading, and Danish home cooking. Her life and career were defined by her love for God, family, and church.

She is survived by her three sisters in Scandinavia, and children, Jan Nielsen of Savannah, G.A.; Anita Grandy of Candler, N.C.; Arne Nielsen of Silver Spring, M.D.; Frank Nielsen of Seattle, W.A.; 10 grand-children and 4 great grandchildren.

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