Key Pen Loses an Icon



By Randy Viers, Special to KP News

Ruth Bramhall was a pillar of the Key Pen community. As Key Peninsula Fire District 16’s Battalion Chief Chuck West said, “She was a strong woman who taught us about perseverance and dedication.” Courtesy photo

After an amazing and fulfilling life as a young girl from Montana, a loving and caring wife and aunt, registered nurse and healthcare provider, world traveler and adventurer, teacher and instructor, woman of faith, prolific community volunteer, dear friend to many and a legend on the Key Peninsula, Ruth Sarah Hornung Bramhall died peacefully on Oct. 4, at a Tacoma hospital with loved ones by her side.

Born on March 18, 1924 in Victor, Montana, she was raised in Victor by parents Adam and Sarah “Sadie” Whicher Hornung. She had three siblings, Robert, Grace and Edward Hornung.

After graduating from high school, Bramhall moved to California to work as a riveter in an airplane factory as part of the World War II effort. After the conclusion of the war, she returned to Montana, where she earned her nursing degree at the School of Nursing in Great Falls.

She then moved to Washington state to pursue her career in nursing and secured a nursing position at American Lake Veterans Hospital in Lakewood. While there, she met her future husband, James Bramhall. They dated for three months and were married in Victor, Montana, on May 18, 1947. They couple resided in Tacoma.

Eleven months after Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital opened in Tacoma, Bramhall was asked to take over the position of head operating room nurse. This was the beginning of a 29-year career with Mary Bridge. She retired from the hospital in 1984.

Bramhall was an active member of the Association of Operating Room Nurses. She was a member of the board of directors, secretary and president-elect before serving two terms as president. During her tenure with AORN, Bramhall traveled to Europe, Russia and South Africa.

Before her retirement, Ruth and Jim Bramhall moved from Tacoma to the Key Peninsula. They purchased a farm and built their home in the Minter area. She quickly became active on the Key as a community volunteer.

Bramhall referred to herself as a “doer” and was known as the community’s greatest volunteer. Her work with nonprofit organizations can be rivaled by none. She received mounds of awards, certificates of appreciation and plaques for joining, participating and donating to civic groups and causes.

Bramhall admired the work of the Key Peninsula Fire Department and eventually was elected as a fire commissioner and served two terms. She was also a member of the Longbranch Community Church and a member of the bell choir.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Jim; parents; brothers and sister. Bramhall is survived by two nieces, Clare Delaney, her stepchildren, Tyler Delaney (Jody), Paige Delaney (Bruce), Trevor Delaney, Perri Delaney (Brian), and their seven children; niece Gayle Weber (Brien), great-niece Morgan Weber, great-nephew Ryal Weber (Tisha), and their two children.

A celebration of life will take place 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 18, at the Key Peninsula Civic Center, 17010 S Vaughn Road KPN in Vaughn. Messages and condolences may be left at the Mountain View Funeral Home website.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the following organizations:

  • The Mustard Seed Project, 9016 154th Avenue Court KP N, Lakebay, WA 98349
  • Victor School Foundation, P.O. Box 1047, Victor, MT 59875
  • Mary Bridge Children’s Foundation, PO Box 5296, Tacoma, WA 98415-0296.