Ruth Ann Colson

MADISON – Ruth Ann Colson, of Madison, Wis., granddaughter of the late Ruth and J. Harold Brian of Salem, died on Aug. 16, 2014, at her home, from complications arising from a 12-year battle with a fatal lung-and-heart disease. She was 60 years old.

Ruth was born at Madison General Hospital on March 25, 1954, to Marjorie Brian Colson and John Calvin Colson. With her family, she visited Salem often over the ensuing decades, staying at the home of her grandmother and her aunt, Barbara “Bobbie” Brian and playing with her many cousins and friends in the Salem area.

Ruth grew up in Wisconsin until 1966, when the family moved to the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., where Ruth’s father took a position as a professor of library sciences at the University of Maryland in College Park. The family moved overseas to Wales, in the United Kingdom, in 1970, where Ruth’s father taught for a year at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth, then returned to Maryland at the end of the year. A free-spirited young woman of the 1960s and 1970s, Ruth opted out of high school before graduating. She lived in several locales around Maryland and worked at various jobs until, in the late 1970s, she moved back to Madison to be closer to her mother, who earlier had returned to Madison.

Ruth was diagnosed in 2002 with pulmonary hypertension, an invariably fatal disease of the lungs and heart, and ultimately was forced to stop working due to her need to be on oxygen 24 hours a day, though she was acknowledged among her family and friends for never complaining about her circumstances and for facing the situation courageously.

Ruth is survived by her brothers, John and his wife, Anne of Carbondale, Colo., and Stuart of Madison; an aunt and uncle, Martha (nee Brian) and Harold Fager of Monona, Wis.; numerous cousins and friends in the Salem area; an aunt, Vera Gouker; several cousins in South Bend, Ind.; and a close-knit group of neighbors and friends in Madison.

She was preceded in death by both parents.

A celebration of Ruth’s life will be announced at a later date. Online condolences may be made at


(Paid obituary)