Maiden Name: Thompson Honorific: n/a
Ruth Hankowsky was born Feb. 11, 1920, to Gilbert “Webb” Thompson and Anna Thompson. Her father, Webb, was a fullblooded Choctaw who received his government land allotment near Wilson. Her mother, Anna, was a school teacher who retired when their first child was born. Ruth was the second of five children.
Farm chores, school work and church activities kept her busy growing up. Learning, teaching and her Choctaw heritage were Ruth’s passions. After elementary school in Wilson, she attended Chilocco Indian School then graduated with a B.S. in Education from Southeastern University in Durant. Her 30 year teaching career began and spanned all levels - elementary (including Music), secondary, and college. In the early 50s she had completed her master’s degree in education and accepted a position in the Speech Dept. at the University of Oklahoma.She taught classes while working on her thesis dissertation for her Phd.
Ruth was active in Native American activities at O.U. and served briefly as one of the first directors of Native American Studies. The topic of her thesis dissertation was a study of the Choctaw language.
During her time at O.U., she married John Hankowsky and they became huge O.U. sports fans, traveling to many football and bowl games. Retirement in the 80s brought a lot more time for family, O.U. sports, and traveling. Her grandchildren, Kendall and John, were both athletes and Ruth and Hank loved watching their soccer, baseball, track, basketball, and cheerleading activities. She remained active and served as an officer in the Chilocco Alumni Association. She was an honored elder member of the First American United Methodist Church in Norman.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Webb and Anna Thompson; husband John Hankowsky; brother Webb Thompson; sister Lorraine Cummings; and daughter Louann Langston.
She is survived by daughters Ellen Lack and husband Jim of Norman, Jane Van Setten of Moore; grandaughters Denise Dalmas and husband Art of Glen Gardner, N.J., and Kendall Lack Portland,Ore.; grandson John Lack and Jenny of Portland, Ore.; sisters Dorothea Forrester and Naomi Brown of Tulsa; and great-grandchildren Nathaniel and Kristina Dalmas of Glen Gardner.