She was born Margaret Sue Warren on April 15th 1922 in Concord to James Arthur and Annie Mayhew Warren. Sue was the youngest girl of 12 children of which 10 lived to adulthood. She was raised on what was then called the Kannapolis Highway (now N Church St) in a house situated across from the old K Town Furniture building. In those days that was in the country. A few horse drawn wagons were still being used. The City of Concord ended at Oakwood Cemetery. The few houses were surrounded by cotton fields.
Being born in 1922 she barely missed the Spanish Flu pandemic and WWI. Women had only received the right to vote 2 years before she was born. When she was a child people got their entertainment and news by gathering around a radio and silent movies were still in existence. She was 5 years old when Lindberg achieved the first transatlantic flight, 6 when penicillin was invented and 7 when the great depression hit. She experienced WWII as a young adult. She could remember going to the train station in 1945 to watch the train pass that held the body of Franklin Roosevelt as it returned to Washington DC from Georgia. These are but a few reminders of how long ago she was born. The changes she witnessed have been extreme and far ranging. As a child she couldn’t have imagined what was to come in her lifetime. Less than 1% of people reach 100 years of age. What a blessing to her and all of us that she achieved this accomplishment.
She attended Winecoff and Concord High School. After school while working in Charlotte she met what was to become her future husband Robert (Bob) Ruehlen. Bob, a young Kansas airman, was training in Charlotte prior to being deployed to the CBI Theater in World War II. Bob upon seeing Sue for the first time apparently was so smitten he walked up behind her on a Charlotte street and stepped on her heel to gain her attention. This was the beginning of a courtship that lasted 2 years while Bob was overseas at war. They corresponded by letter and after he returned stateside were married a few days later. The ceremony took place on July 6th 1945 in Concord. They later moved to Chapel Hill where Bob completed his education at UNC. After graduation the couple moved to High Point for a brief period before moving back to Concord to settle in and raise their family. They had 3 children: Susan in 1949, Robert Jr. in 1953, and Phil in 1954. Sue’s desire from an early age was to be a wife and mother. This was what she was designed to do and what made her the happiest. She thrived in this traditional role. It was all she ever wanted to do and was exceptional at it. They lived happily together for 66 years until Bob’s death in 2011. She remained an active mother, grandmother, and great grandmother even after her 100th birthday. The basis to this wonderfully successful journey was her deep and abiding faith. She was raised in the Methodist Church and her faith was a part of her core. Beyond just going to church she lived her faith. Her family is grateful for all the lessons she has taught and all the love she has given. Every person who has known her is the better for it. And even at 100 she still taught us the lessons of life.
Some of the lessons she taught us were:
● Keep a positive frame of mind. Mom’s spirits were never down for long and she told us that attitude was a choice. Life isn’t always going to be fair but nobody wants to be around a complainer.
● Look for the best in each person. Everyone is a mix of good and bad but human nature seems to make us focus on the negative. We seldom heard her speak badly of anyone. The harshest statement we can remember was “that person is very difficult to love”.
● Be kind to everyone whether they deserve it or not. After all, you don’t know what they may be going through.
● Take time to care about what’s going on in others’ lives and be a good listener. Anyone who has known Sue for more than five minutes knows this is something she practiced.
● Forgive others even when they haven’t asked for it. Because when you don’t it only hurts yourself.
These are just a few of the important things Sue passed on to her family. And as we consider these truths, we realize they are all teachings about the love of God.
Sue was preceded in death by her husband of 66 years Bob Ruehlen , daughter Susan R. Sexton, and a great-grandson.
Survivors include sons, Robert Ruehlen, Jr. and his wife Leigh Ann; Phillip Ruehlen and his wife Sharon, and Resat Say and his wife JoAnn all of Concord; her grandchildren Sarah (Tim), Maggie (Kenneth), Katherine (Scott), Rebecca, Nyal (Kelly), Robert (Beth), Eric, Matt (Amanda), Chris, Amanda, Lara (Jack), John and Brandon; her great grandchildren Tim, Ben, Susan, Rose, Matt, Knox, Kenneth, Jacob, James, Evelyn, Becca Lynn, Aya, and Neve.
A funeral service will be held at 2:00 pm on Saturday, January 21, 2023 at Central United Methodist Church, officiated by Rev. Tom Latimer. The family will receive friends following the service.
The service will be live streamed at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/@CentralUMCConcord
In lieu of flowers, the family request memorials be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 4600 Park Rd #100, Charlotte, NC 28209 or Central United Methodist Church, 30 Union St N, Concord NC 28025.