Ohio Music Education Association

In Memoriam

Helen Ruhlen
May 29th, 1942 – May 3rd, 2018
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Helen Mae Ruhlen, was born on May 29th, 1942 to JE and Helen Spitler. She was a 1960 graduate of McComb High School (McComb, Ohio) and received her bachelor’s in music education from Ohio Northern University and master’s degree in music education from Bowling Green State University, with additional studies at Findlay College and Union College (Barberville, KY).

She married William H. Ruhlen, of Lima, Ohio, on August 14th, 1966. It was almost part of each Ohio Music Education Association (OMEA) professional conference to see Bill and Helen at the conference information booth, smiling and offering answers to questions and welcoming attendees. They spent 43 years together before he proceeded her in death on December 21st, 2009. She is survived by her only child, William "Billy" F. Ruhlen (Jennifer) and two grandsons, Parker J. Ruhlen and Carson J. Ruhlen all of Marysville.

Her son Billy commented, “OMEA was everything to her! She loved the kids. That was why she did it for so long as she did. I remember that she ended every elementary program with ‘A Song in Your Heart.’”
Richard Eakin, former OMEA trustee and state treasurer stated, “Helen was always busy at OMEA district III high school and middle school solo and ensemble adjudicated events.  When her physical condition made it difficult to walk, she was undaunted as she navigated crowds and hallways on her scooter to her students’ events.  Her ‘can-do’ spirit was infectious, and influenced students and colleagues alike.”

“She was the ‘face of OMEA’ at every professional conference, welcoming attendees, offering a warm smile and friendly word,” said Marcus Neiman, state historian, “and she had answers to almost every conference question, or knew where that answer could be found. She was passionate about serving OMEA and giving of herself to her friends and colleagues.”
In addition to her teaching, she was an avid church organist and accompanist in many of the local churches as well as being a church choir director. Helen served on the OMEA state board as well as serving as a Hospice volunteer and CASA representative for Hancock County.

OMEA President Kathleen McGrady, said, “Helen was surely a very special lady! I remember her fondly at OMEA Conferences as she smiled at everyone and reeled them into her circle of music happiness!” OMEA Executive Director Roger Hall said, “Helen served OMEA for many years as the state-wide coordinator of Music In Our Schools Month. Her passion for providing music at the elementary level was fundamental to our mission. She will be missed and remembered by many as the “face” of OMEA during the nineties when she served the annual OMEA Professional Development Conference as the “Information Lady."