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302-478-7100 Wilmington & Hockessin, DE

Ruth Matruder Smythe

Ruth Louise Matruder Smythe of Rehoboth Beach, DE died peacefully with her children at her side on May 20, 2024.Most people knew Ruth as a prominent attorney and fierce advocate, both in private practice and as a Public Defender for the State of Delaware.  But more importantly, everyone knew Ruth as a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. 

Born in West Hazleton, Pennsylvania in 1940 to Evelyn Marie Miller and Karl Hermann August Krause, Ruth was the eldest of three children.  Ruth loved the outdoors, often exploring and hiking through the woods, or swimming in the Spring Water fed swimming pool built by hand by her father, Karl.   Ruth also enjoyed traveling the western United States with her family, often joining her parents on western adventures once Ruth had a family of her own. Ruth’s favorite jewelry was Native American inspired turquoise pieces, no doubt a taste acquired from her many trips out west. 

Ruth attended Tamaqua High School where she met and eventually married her high school sweetheart, Jack (John C.) Matruder. Ruth and Jack moved to the greater Philadelphia area after high school, finally settling in Wilmington, Delaware where Ruth attended Goldey-Beacom College and the University of Delaware. Ruth also worked in real estate for B. Garry Scott Realtor where she eventually became a sales associate in the Residential Division in 1972.  In that same year, Ruth received the National Business Education Association Award of Merit, an association membership, as the outstanding business education major at the University of Delaware.  After graduating from University of Delaware with a Business Education degree, Ruth joined what is now called the State of Delaware Office of Defense Services as a legal assistant. 

After being exposed to law from both the business and criminal justice sides, Ruth enrolled at Widener University Delaware Law School.  Ruth received her Juris Doctorate and passed the Delaware bar exam in 1979, becoming one of the first 80 women admitted to the Delaware Bar. Ruth enjoyed a career in both private practice, specializing in family law and real estate, and for the State of Delaware Office of Defense Services in New Castle, Kent, and Sussex counties.  

Ruth’s love of serving her community lead her to run for the statewide office of Insurance Commissioner in 1988.  Ruth was appointed to and served on the New Castle County Ethics Commission for many years and was active in the Delaware Commission for Women. When Ruth was not busy representing or defending a client, she enjoyed teaching law at the local community college, something she continued to do throughout her retirement years.  

In the late 1980’s, Ruth met her soon-to-be husband, Donald Smythe, while they were simultaneously running their campaigns for public office. They married in 1988 and spent the next three plus decades of life together with a blended family of children, stepchildren, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. 

Though Ruth loved travel, socializing at the club, boating and sunset sails with her husband, family, and friends, Ruth’s favorite role was being a grandparent. She treasured time with Don and their grandkids and loved being their “Grandmother,” fully living up to the adage that grandparents spoil their grandchildren.  Ruth cherished watching her grandchildren start families of their own and lived to be the ultimate great grandmother as she welcomed 9 great grandchildren into her life. Ruth logged endless miles on DE Route 1 North to spend time, babysit, and never miss a school, sport, or family event.   

When it came to friends, the list is too long to mention, but it was the quality of long-lasting friendships Ruth made over the years with business colleagues, neighbors, and together with Don that made all the difference. Whether a local night out for dinner or a cruise on the Mediterranean, Ruth knew that great friends made the experience even more memorable.  

An avid reader, there wasn’t a day you would find Ruth without a book. She especially enjoyed knowing what books her grandchildren were reading and exchanging books with them. Ruth had a green thumb, lovingly tending to her outdoor gardening, rose beds, and thriving indoor plants. While Ruth had many special recipes, her signature “cranberry applesauce” was a favorite at every holiday dinner and she passed that infamous recipe and tradition to her daughter, Kim and granddaughter, Meghan. 

Ruth will always be remembered as being the matriarch of her family.  She hosted countless holidays and parties, bringing her family together on any given day, weekend, or holiday. Never missing the opportunity to live life to its fullest, Ruth enjoyed every moment, and created lasting memories with those dearests to her.  

Ruth is predeceased by her husband of 35 years, Donald R. Smythe, her first husband John C. Matruder (Jack), mother and father Evelyn M. and Karl H.A. Krause, brothers Robert and Richard Krause, son Scott Matruder, daughter-in-law Michele Matruder, stepdaughter Donna Smythe, and stepson David Smythe.  Ruth is survived by her daughter Kim Roop (husband Jay), son Mark Matruder (wife Danielle), stepdaughter Elaine Smythe, grandchildren AJ Roop (wife Meghan), Meghan Roop Reynolds (husband Greg), Ryan Matruder, Amanda Matruder, Lindsey Matruder Pease (husband Gavin), Connor Crompton, Alexa Smythe Viola and 9 great grandchildren.  

A funeral service will be held at Chandler Funeral Home, 2506 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803 starting at 12:00 PM, May 30, 2024, with a viewing beginning at 11:00 AM. Interment will follow the service at Lawn Croft Cemetery.  

Funeral Services

A funeral service will be held at Chandler Funeral Home, 2506 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803 starting at 12:00 PM, May 30, 2024, with a viewing beginning at 11:00AM. Interment will follow the service at Lawncroft Cemetery.


    Richard Francis Stokes writes,
    Dear family and friends of Ruth, I was a judge serving on the Court of Common Pleas and the Superior Court in Sussex County. Ruth tried many cases assigned to me. She was a first-rate litigator, always prepared, zealously representing her clients, and connecting with jurors who found her to be authentic in her presentations. She fought the good fight in seeking justice. What a role model and example of the best of lawyers of the Delaware Bar. Please accept my condolences over her passing. In sympathy, Richard Stokes
    05/22/2024 05:27 pm
    Cathy Snyder lit a candle and writes,
    My Deepest Condolences , Love you all. R.I.P. Aunt Ruth I love you Always..
    05/23/2024 08:30 am
    Barbara Cessaro writes,
    My Forever Sister and Friend, Love you Ruth. My Deepest Condolences 🙏
    05/23/2024 08:33 am
    edward pankowski lit a candle and writes,
    Ruth was a great attorney and friend whom I worked with for many years as an assistant, public defender… RIP, my dear
    05/25/2024 12:07 am
    John Campanella lit a candle and writes,
    Mark and Kim, I am very sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. She was an amazing lady! I’m happy I had the chance to be your neighbor growing up and witness your mother’s dynamic, energetic personality. I am sorry I cannot be with you as you honor your mother and take her to her final resting place but know that you and your family will be in my prayers.
    05/25/2024 01:51 pm
    Yrene Waldron writes,
    It is difficult to write a condolence message for my dear friend. There are many many memories to share as well. She was a top notch legal eagle and a top notch friend. I will miss her dearly. Her fearless spirit, wicked sense of humor and amazing hearty laugh will never be forgotten. She loved her family dearly and cherished her time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Soar high and free Ruth until we meet again.
    05/29/2024 01:47 pm
    Karen Kane writes,
    Kim and Mark, I’m so sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. We lived next door to her on Monroe Street in the 80’s, and she was a wonderful neighbor and friend. She adored the two of you! Please let your many memories give you comfort. Karen Kane
    05/30/2024 06:06 pm

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