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Ruth Ann (Forsythe) Gurdian, 92, died in the early hours of Thu., Aug. 10, 2023, in Avon, IN. She is
survived by her sons David and Will, her daughters Rita Thompson and Regina Liebenthal, as well as 9
grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her twin sister Rosemary El-Bakri of
Greenwood, IN. Ruth will be dearly missed by her family and friends who loved her very much.
Born during the Great Depression on June 27, 1931, in Gary, IN, Ruth Forsythe was one of two identical
twin daughters born to Charles J. and Frances McGinnis Forsythe, who already had two sons (Jack and
Charles E. [“Gene”]). She attended elementary school and high school in Gary, graduating from Lew
Wallace HS in 1950. From 1950 to 1954, she attended Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, graduating in
1954 with a B.A., majoring in French language. At IU she met her future husband, the late William
Gurdian (a native of Nicaragua, Central America). Ruth and William were married on June 25, 1955, at
St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Gary. The newlyweds first lived in Indianapolis before moving to
Rochester, NY, where their first two children (Rita and David) were born.
In 1964, the young family moved to the capital city Managua, Nicaragua, so that William could co-
manage the family business: the Gurdian Printing Co., Ltd. (Impresiones Gurdian), which at its apex
employed approximately 70 people. While living in Nicaragua, Ruth gave birth to three more children:
Regina, Will and Dennis. Tragedy struck in Dec. 1972, when a 6.9-magnitude earthquake crippled
Managua, prompting Ruth and her young family to be evacuated to the United States; William remained
behind in Managua, however, endeavoring to salvage the family business. Ever since then, Ruth and
William would never again live together as husband and wife, although the two never divorced.
Ruth and her five children lived in Gary for 13 years. Between 1981 and 1984, however, Ruth returned to
Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, to pursue a Master’s Degree in Education (M.S. Ed.), mental health
counseling, graduating in May 1984. Ruth and her three youngest children moved to Merrillville, IN, in
For more than 10 years, Ruth served as a full-time Counselor in various roles (e.g., for the Women,
Infants, and Children [WIC] program of Northwest Indiana, for the Crisis Center in Gary, etc.) while also
working part-time as a family therapist, counseling couples and individuals residing in Merrillville,
Crown Point, Hobart, and other Northwest Indiana communities. Many of her clients were deeply
impacted by her professional service and fondly remembered her even years later. Finally retiring in 2009,
Ruth busied herself by spending time with her family and attending birthdays, baptisms, graduations,
confirmations and other family events for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Over the years she lived with her oldest son, David, in Greencastle, IN, as well as with her oldest
daughter, Rita, and youngest daughter, Regina, in Avon, IN. It was during this time that Ruth became
active in the prolife ministry 40 Days for Life, praying outside the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic on
Indianapolis’ northside. Ruth was inspired to rent the billboard standing adjacent the clinic, prominently
displaying various prolife messages to prospective clients. In addition to paying out-of-pocket, Ruth
raised funds to maintain the billboard for many years. In Dec. 2013, Ruth was featured in an episode of
iChoose Life News & Views Catholic radio broadcast (based in Fort Wayne, IN), with host Cathie
Humbarger interviewing Ruth about her “Billboard for Life.” In the end, her good work directly
contributed to saving the lives of approximately 1,569 unborn children (according to estimates from the
Women’s Care Center, which eventually was built right next door to Planned Parenthood).
Interestingly, Ruth first returned to Indiana from Nicaragua in Dec. 1972, just one month before the US
Supreme Court passed its infamous Roe v. Wade decision in Jan. 1973. Ruth immediately became
involved in the burgeoning prolife movement that quickly emerged in response to the Court’s decision.
And she lived long enough not only to see the eventual overturning of Roe in June 2022 but also the
effective date of Aug. 1, 2023, when Indiana’s prolife law restricting most abortions finally went into
effect. Four or five days later, Ruth was diagnosed with acute leukemia. Then, on Aug. 10, 2023, she
passed away –– as if God the Father had called home His good and faithful servant to claim her reward
for the good fight now finished.
Ruth was a faithful parishioner of St. Susanna Catholic Church in Plainfield, as well as of Sacred Heart of
Jesus Catholic Church in Cicero; her home was located in Cicero.
In 2014, Ruth suffered a stroke but fully recovered, enjoying near-perfect health until the last week of her
life. In 2017 Ruth’s youngest son, Dennis, died tragically, followed a few years later by her husband
William, who died in 2021. At her son’s funeral, Ruth displayed enormous strength, comforting those in
attendance as they wept for Dennis, reassuring them by saying: “We’ll see him again.”
Ruth had a long and fulfilling life. She traveled extensively, including to Dublin, Ireland; Rome, Italy;
Munich, Germany; Prague, Czech Republic; Zurich, Switzerland; Guadalupe, Mexico; and the Holy Land
in Israel. She was an avid reader, devouring numerous volumes of history, classic literature, biographies,
etc. She was a lover of classic-era films. She was a great conversationalist and listener. Ruth’s sharp sense
of humor was boundless, even amusing her Oncologist while he delivered the news of terminal diagnosis.
She was truly one in a million.
The funeral Mass for Ruth will be held on Wed., Aug. 16, at 11 am at St. Mary Queen of Peace Catholic
Church, located at 1005 W. Main St., Danville, IN 46122. The Mass will be preceded by a visitation at 10
am at the church. Maple Hill Cemetery in Plainfield will be Ruth’s final resting place.
“The Master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant! ... Come and share your Master's joy!' ”