Ruth H. Barrus

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Ruth Barrus Mormon Musician
Ruth Barrus at the Wicks Pipe Organ at Ricks College, 1963

Ruth Hammond Barrus was an organist and music and English professor. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ruth was born in 1912 in Rigby, Idaho. Her mother brought one of the first pianos into the Upper Snake River Valley and found the best teachers in the West (who came from the Eastern States and Europe) to train Ruth at the piano. They lived in various places throughout Idaho. She graduated from Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University) in 1934 and began teaching organ and piano part time at Ricks College and in private lessons throughout the valley. She also married LaMar Barrus that year.

She spent over forty years at Ricks College, not only teaching music but teaching in the English department. She founded a unique program in the humanities after she obtained her master’s degree in English literature with a minor in music from Brigham Young University. In 1970 she was honored with the Outstanding Young Faculty Award for Ricks College and in 1975 the Alumni Association Distinguished Teacher Service Award. Renowned organist Alexander Schreiner once introduced her at a convention of organ teachers by saying that she was “an individual who has trained more fine organists than any other teacher in the Church.”[1] In 1978, she was honored as Idaho Mother of the Year.

In 1975, she took a leave from Ricks College to work on the Musical Heritage project. She received a grant from the Association for the Humanities in Idaho, and in 1977 she began Musical Heritage community presentations. She died on March 3, 1980.

Ruth and her husband were the parents of five children, three of whom survived to adulthood and became musicians themselves. The Barrus Concert Hall in the Eliza R. Snow Building at BYU-Idaho is named in her honor.