Ruth Van Doren Valued Family, Friends, Animals, Nature and Faith in God


Ruth Naomi Van Doren passed away unexpectedly on February 11, 2021 at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. She was born on July 26, 1953, in Gibraltar, Michigan, the fourth child of Paul and Margie McKenna.

Her early childhood years were spent in Port Huron, MI and Cheboygan, where her father, the Reverend Paul McKenna, served as a minister for the United Church of Christ. Rev. McKenna’s ministry brought the family to Clinton in 1960 and Ruth graduated from Clinton High School in 1971. Ruth married Marc Van Doren in a lovely backyard ceremony in Tecumseh at the home of Paula and Dennis Bowman on June 22, 1974 with Rev. Paul McKenna as officiant.

She is survived by her husband, Marc, after 47 years of marriage.

Ruth earned a Bachelor’s Degree at Western Michigan University in the early seventies. Ruth and Marc spent nine years in San Francisco, CA where Marc attended the San Francisco Art Institute. They returned to Michigan (with a car load of cats) in 1983 and shortly after purchased the home of Marc’s grandfather which sits on a hill above Pleasant Lake (Manchester, MI).

Ruth earned a Master’s in Social Work degree from the University of Michigan in 1992. She worked for seven years for the Jackson County Dept. on Aging doing assessment and resource connection for the elderly. Ruth highly valued family, friends, animals, nature, and her faith in God. She was always a sparkling presence at family gatherings. She loved to cook and entertain and created many beautiful memories for family and friends such as splendid 4th of July picnics at Pleasant Lake.

Ruth and Marc were blessed with many nieces and nephews who loved them dearly and appreciated their singular flair and style. She may be most fondly remembered for her love of cats. In lieu of children, over the years Ruth and Marc provided a loving home for a multitude of cats, most adopted as strays who needed a good home and they found their haven with Ruth. From Luther in the beginning to Fred near the end, her feline friends brought great joy to her and equally great tears as they passed away. In recent years, two beautiful, lively, chocolate brown poodles, Andre and Journey, were added to the home and brought great pleasure as well.

In addition to her husband, Marc Van Doren, Ruth is survived by her sister, Paula (Dennis) Bowman; brother, Ivan (Melissa) McKenna; brother, Dwight (Barbara) McKenna; brother-in-law, Richard (Diane) Van Doren; brother-in-law, Jeffrey (Geraldine) Van Doren; sister-in-law, Shanna Wykes, and many nieces and nephews. Ruth was preceded in death by her parents, Paul and Margie McKenna; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Roger and Dorothy Van Doren; brother-in-law, Donald Van Doren and brother-in-law, John Wykes. A family Celebration of Life for Ruth will be held this summer on Pleasant Lake.

Arrangements have been handled by the Robison-Bahnmiller Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Saline, Michigan. Those wishing to share condolences or memories may do so at Memorial contributions in Ruth’s honor may be made to The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration through their website: or to a preferred animal shelter. To sign Ruth’s guestbook, to leave a memory, or for more information, please visit

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