Juanita Ruetz


Juanita Ruetz went home to glory on the Lord's Day, Feb. 28, 2016.
A daughter of Spencer and Minnie Greene Potter, she was born in their two-room house on June 7, 1932. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband of 43 years, Gerhard G. Ruetz; her beloved uncle and aunt, Roscoe and Ina Mae Potter; and an infant sister, Dorthey Ann.
An honors graduate of Jonesboro High School and East Tennessee State College, she studied under Mrs. Jess Patton Hayworth, Robert Dix Lincoln, and Paul Salamunovich, among others. From a humorous and memorable experience with Salamunovich, and the legendary Robert Shaw, she often reminded her students that they must try a little harder, as "God has perfect pitch."
A longtime member of King Springs Church of Christ, Mrs. Ruetz was baptized into the Lord's church at age 11, and remained faithful throughout her life.
Her Aunt Mae taught her how to play the piano at age 5. She excelled and, despite her youth, soon was in demand as an accompanist in churches and the Washington County Singing Convention.
For nearly 50 years, Mrs. Ruetz taught piano and choral music, both privately and in the public school systems of Norfolk, Va.; Johnson City; and Washington County. As a private teacher, her Hayworth Music Club was comprised of some of the area's finest young piano students.
Mrs. Ruetz was twice selected for "Outstanding Young Women of the Year," and Who's Who Among American College Students. She was a longtime member of Who's Who in American High Schools and Universities. Within two classes of finishing her master's degree in library science, she talked of living the "quiet life" of a librarian. That notion died for lack of a second.
She was a former member of the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra board of directors, and that of the Eller Family Association. She was a former member, and always affectionate toward Jonesborough's charming Schubert Club, and after retirement she greatly enjoyed membership in the Johnson City Monday Club/GFWC, for which she helped organize music and visiting performers for several years.
In 1967, encouraged by her aunt, and then-Johnson City Mayor May Ross McDowell, she formed a Washington County group that eventually became the Tennessee Singing Republicans. With the active support (iron will) of Mayor McDowell, then-Congressman James H. "Jimmy" Quillen, and then-U.S. Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr., that 40-member ensemble would become the first non-professional group to perform at a national political convention.
In 1969, along with her adored friend and collaborator Shirley Ann Chinouth, she organized the Johnson City Centennial Singers, and the year spent performing around the region in honor of the city's 100th birthday with her beloved singing friends was one of her most cherished memories.
Groups under her direction performed from the Watauga Academy reunion in Butler to the World's Fair in Knoxville. Selected as Friendship Ambassadors by the Reader's Digest/DeWitt Wallace Foundation, she led a group of students on a 15-day performance tour throughout Spain.
Mrs. Ruetz directed the music for several productions at the Johnson City Community Theater beginning about 1965. She was a charter member of the Jonesborough Repertory Theater, and organized a large choral group which traveled to Nashville to perform This Then is Tennessee, the theater's first production, for Statehood Days in 1970.
She directed the music for the 90-member cast of Toward The Setting Sun, a local production that helped revive the JRT in 2001.
In retirement, she became a mother once more – to the vast family of friends who gathered each summer at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area to produce Liberty!, Tennessee's Official Outdoor Drama. For 13 years, she worked tirelessly as the one-woman team of researcher, musical, blocking and script consultant, promoter and "No. 1 Fan."
Survivors include her daughter, Damaris Ruetz, of Franklin; her son, Jon Ruetz, of Jonesborough; several cousins, including Margaret Anne Berry, Dr. Joyce Potter, Gary Potter, Ronnie Potter, Gina Delaney, Susan Potter, Sharon Bowers, Mickey Deason, Janet G. McKee, Alpha Bridger, Lowell Greene, Steve Greene, Rick Storey, Elijah Berry and Marlee Berry; and her lifelong friends she considered to be sisters, Elizabeth Maden and Joyce Dean Garrison. Her treasured, eternally loyal dog, Casey, also mourns her passing.
A celebration of the life of Juanita Ruetz will be held Friday at 7 p.m. in the chapel of Dillow-Taylor Funeral Home, Highway 11-E in Jonesborough. The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m. prior to the service, officiated by Bro. Bill Manuel. Former students and friends will perform music, accompanied by Dr. Sharon Rush.
Pallbearers – who loved, cared for and honored her in life – will include: Tony Maden; Chris Webb, Shawn Griffith; Craig Ford; Scott Pratt; Dr. Ken Turner Sr.; Kathy Torgerson; Lise Cutshaw; Brian Ponder; Hon. Don Squibb; Parise Griffith; and Hon. Matthew Hill.
The list of honorary pallbearers is a roll of honor – and only a partial one – of her unforgettable students and friends, recipients of her boundless love who brightened and enriched the rhythm of her life. It includes: her beloved brothers and sisters from King Springs Church of Christ: Bill and Alma Carter; Norman Simerly; Sheila Wood; Mike and Sue Hubbard; Winfred and Jane Sluder; Helen Hughes; Penny Townsend; Jean May; Joyce Jones; Jim "Jim Bo" Little; Brandon Maddox; Samantha Maddox; Malachi Paloian; Leonard and Mary Johnson; and Ken and Anita Worley; and dear ones always in her memories, thoughts and prayers, including: Bill Beals; Clyde Garrison; J. Craig Orfield; Bo Deaton; Frank Knisley; Dr. Thomas Jenrette; Robert Dix Lincoln; Hobart Powell; Robert Murray; Mattie Mullins; Andrew Mullins; Becky Starnes; Sanda Salts; Artavan Hart; Claude "Cosmo" Griffith; John Judd; Karen Judd; Randy Hilbert; Rodney Metcalf; Logan Metcalf; Angie Metcalf; Gerald McInturff; Janet G. McKee; Maybell Stewart; Martha Reed; Joel Blake; Todd Essig; Billie Ann Rogers; Lynette Poe; Mary Manuel; Deborah Lowery; Jean Campbell; Christine Keys; Elizabeth Smith; Mark Smith; Phyllis Fox; Becky McNeese; Patricia Ivens; Mike Ivens; Greg Ivens; Brad Ivens; Donna Saylor; Brenda Vaughn; Sara Davis; Jon Etter; Caroline May; Mike May; Kathryn May; Robert M. May II; Anita Miller; Jeana MacGregor; Thomas Ervin; Bobbye Webb; Linda Cookenhour; Fred Goodwin; Jack Leonard; Sarah Vaughn; Susan Painter; Johnny Painter; Howard Alexander; Brian Fritts; Steve Fritts; Wenny Elrod; Charles Locke; Phil Groos; LeAnn Simmerman; Laura Evans; Karen Chraska; Debbie Thomas; LuAnn Davenport; Brian Scott; Laura Fleming; Sherri Renfro; Karen Ramsey; Vince Walters; Eric Rowe; Jon Rogers; Tom Madison; Mike Bates; Joe May; Josh Grizzle; Gina Grizzle; Terry Austin; Teresa Hensley; Alan Campbell; Rick Chinouth; Josephine Hemphill; Jennifer Price; Peggy Wright; Tim Wright; Liz McCoy; Lori Krigbaum; Nathan Wilson; David Decker; Tim Decker; Richard Antone; Barbara Elliott; Penny Lowe; Lisa Bennett; Ouita Lands; Sharon Bennett; Tammy Reed; Phil Harris; Kristi Waddle; Tina Whitson; Adrienne Weaver; Lisa Childers; Carole Campbell-Smith; Santo Cicerello; Sal Cicerello; David Cicerello; Susan Jacobs; Kathy Whitson; Dr. Richard W. Phillips; Lucy Phillips; Dr. James R. Pierce; Jane Gray Collier; Glen Rose; John Rose; Wes Ford; Artie Edwards; Thelma Crumley; Dr. Roberta Herrin; Mike Grumka; Ron Dykes; Henry Scott; Hon. Jimmy Neil Smith; Ann Hodge; "Lightnin' Charlie" Dolinger; Terri Bowling; Eugenia Bowling; David Arney; Tammy Allen; Cole Allen; Effie Barnett; Martha Keplinger; Shirley Barwick; Dr. Elizabeth Bailey; Dr. Wilene Paxton; Mike Carson; Danny Reece; Diana O'Neal; Russell Jackson; Kevin Vines; Sandy Smith; Marty Henley; Sara Riddle; Ellen Huffine; Tom Riddle; Rick Beeson; Bruce Lynch; Dena Hensley; Vicki Boyd; Mary Nell McIntyre; Kim Faulkner; Chris Hilemon; Cassandra Scott; Brian Garland; Steven Pruitt; Melanie Moore; Ambers Wilson; Herb Roberts; Jennifer Bauer; Michael Barnett; Dr. Paul Gabinet; Hon. Ginger Jilton; Hon. Don Arnold; Hon. Timothy Hill; Hon. Micah Van Huss; Hon. John Rambo; Michael Hartman; Harriet Carr; Butch Carr; Lauretta Greene; Sharon Nourse; and John Seward Jr.
We humbly offer heartfelt gratitude to the nurses on the 5500 block of Johnson City Medical Center, who fought for her life for 28 days, and saved it; the nurses and therapists at NHC, who made it possible for her to rise up and go back home; the staff of Amedysis Home Health, especially Laurie and Amy; Dr. Ellen Nave and her staff; Dr. Melanie Davidson and Dr. Jeff Schoondyke and the staff at Karing Hearts; Dr. Allyson Bohlman and the staff at TrueLight Eye Care; and her buddy, Dr. Randy Moze.
The list of "Momma Rue's kids" is innumerable. If she touched your life, you are warmly invited to join in, and honor her last earthly journey, when her remains will be brought to the hilltop of her family's farm that was donated almost a century ago for Highland Church of Christ Cemetery on Highland Church Road. The graveside service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m., and will also be officiated by Bro. Manuel.
Momma was a loving and giving person. Though of modest means, throughout her life she tried to help others as much as she could. She was deeply concerned about the plight of abused and endangered women. She donated to and helped raise money for the Shepherd's Inn, P.O. Box 2214, Elizabethton, TN 37643.
She loved our veterans, working to support and assist them throughout her life, especially through the Lend Lease (US) Community Fund, 1801 West End Ave., Suite 1700, Nashville, TN 37203 (an organization dedicated to supporting our military families).
She worried about the needy and impoverished, and donated to and helped raise money for Good Samaritan Ministries, 100 N. Roan St., Johnson City, TN 37601.
And her heart was touched by saving the elephants. She donated to The Elephant Sanctuary, 27 E. Main St., P.O. Box 393, Hohenwald, TN 38462 (www.elephants.com).

Would you like to leave an eulogy or condolence for Juanita Ruetz? If so, simply click HERE

03-07-2016 W. Stephen Manuel
My brother Kevin (and wife Carly), wife Amanda, and son Jacob were often present at King Springs Church of Christ while Juanita was present there. We learned to love and respect her for her Christian kindness and friendship. She was the perfect gentle-lady toward us. Her playing was an inspiration to us especially when she did special numbers. May God bless her dear memory and remember us as her dear friends. She was and is one of the special friends we will remember in our lives.
03-06-2016 Cynthia Washington-Anderson
I would like to offer my condolences to Mrs. Ruetz' family and pay my respects to her. She believed in my talents as a 2nd Alto, and helped me tremendously. I'm sorry to hear of her passing. I am sure that heavens choir is welcoming her in. Respect to you all.
03-06-2016 Mr. and Mrs. Billy Joe Manuel
There has never been a more professional, courteous, godly, and caring friend than Juanita. In times of sadness and rejoicing, she was there. She has helped so many people in so many ways. I am confident that where she is the Lord will be blessed with a very special right hand woman. We are praying for her family.
03-06-2016 Mr. and Mrs. Billy Joe Manuel
There has never been a more professional, courteous, godly, and caring friend than Juanita. In times of sadness and rejoicing, she was there. She has helped so many people in so many ways. I am confident that where she is the Lord will be blessed with a very special right hand woman. We are praying for her family.
03-05-2016 Darrell and Betty Jo Dempsey
We are so sorry to hear of your mother's passing. Our high school(JHS/DCHS) music programs were always fantastic and inspiring under her direction! Your in our thoughts and prayers.
03-05-2016 Mike and Sue Grumka
We are so sorry for your loss. We enjoyed and were honored to have been her neighbor for many years. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. We love you, Mike and Sue
03-04-2016 Linda Archer Maxwell
Jon and Damaris, May God surround you with HIS Love and Comfort. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Your Mom was dear to my heart and filled with many memories over the years. God Bless You and Comfort You.
03-04-2016 Rick Storey
Jon and Damaris, Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time. I know you both have many memories of you Mom that can be treasures for a lifetime.
03-04-2016 Linda Vines Dotson
Mrs. Ruetz was a wonderful lady and an amazing teacher! She will be missed. Damaris and Jon, you both are in my thoughts and prayers.
03-04-2016 stella coffey turnmire
jon and Damaris I am so sorry about your mom. I enjoy being around her and listerning her played the piano. her music and the playing been being around for it also may god continue be with u during this time love to u both hope see u soon,
03-04-2016 Ned Jilton II
Jon and Damaris, I was deeply saddened when I heard of your mother’s passing. She was a wonderful, caring and hard working person. I remember, back in school, how some of use would gather in her office during lunch and we would just talk about things. She was always ready to listen, help and encourage. But in this moment of sadness I can’t help but remember the happy times she brought use. I remember once during rehearsal there was one girl who would rock forward and back while she sang. She had a solo and while she was singing she started rocking, and the rest of us started rocking along with her. Your mom was looking at the music and the singer then she turned to begin directing the choir and I wish you could have seen the look on her face when she saw the whole choir rocking forwards and back in unison. She realized what was gong on and burst out laughing. We had to start over. It’s hard to believe she is gone, but she will not be forgotten. Thank you for sharing her with the rest of us.
03-04-2016 Debbie Taylor Miller
Very sorry to hear Mrs. Ruetz passing. She was my music teacher all four years that I was at Crockett, she was one of the best. My sincerest condolences to her son and Daughter, Jon and Damaris. Keeping your family in my prayers at this hard time.
03-04-2016 Robert Harrell
Jon and Damaris, so sorry to hear of your loss, your Mom was an inspiration and touched generations with her music.
03-03-2016 Marianne (Chase) Fair
Jon.@Damaris I loved her as a Teacher of the Art of Music .She sure made me look at life in a power house way She will always live on as long as we are alive and thinking I had shared with my girls how i wish they could had met my music teacher/director and as the song goes i will press on through the rain and storm till God calls me home .THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES.
03-03-2016 John and Karen Judd
Jon and Damaris, we are so sorry for your loss. She told us often how proud she was of both of you and how blessed she was to have you as her children. The world has lost a very special light. The gifts of her loving and generous heart will live on in every one she touched. We hold you all in our hearts and prayers.
03-03-2016 Rachel Lawson Morrison
Sorry to hear this news, i know this is a heard times as we lost our mom in may of last year my thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time, i would come but it is to soon and i dont think i can handle it but Amelia is going to try to come all the great memories as neighbors on Bugaboo.. Love in Christ, Rachel Lawson Morrison
03-03-2016 Shay Hammett
My condolences on your loss. Mrs. Ruetz not only was a great teacher, but a great person. i will never forget the things she taught me while in her class in the late 80's @ Crockett. she will be missed.
03-03-2016 Steve Pruitt
Jon and Damaris, I am so sorry to hear about your mother's passing. I have long intended to write a "thank you" to her for all the lessons I learned under her instruction. She took many of us in with our questionable attitudes and patiently loved and taught us even though some of us (me) neglected to ever convey our deep gratitude. I learned much about doing what is necessary to make the show go on, although watching Damaris collapse from the flu on the floor of the VA theater during rehearsals may have made an even more memorable impression! And I learned much about the attitude of leadership. One day your mom announced the plans for an upcoming show. I stood in the front of the room and greeted her news with an overly-obvious eye roll that I did not intend for her to see. But she did see it. She grabbed me by the arm, drug me into the back hallway, and gave me a lecture about leadership I will never forget. I regret never writing her to tell her these things, but I pray that these words spark memories of your own and that you find moments of joy within the grief for a life well-lived. Sincerely, Steven Pruitt
03-03-2016 Jeanie Davenport-Devore
Very sorry for your loss, she was a great music teacher and person.
03-02-2016 Stephanie McClellan
Jon, I'm so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Your mother was a remarkable woman, loved and respected by so many people. Stephanie
03-02-2016 Karen (Hopson) Ralston
Mrs. Ruetz will be Greatly missed. I was apart of the Crockett Congregation only my senior year. I had moved from another school system due to a move with my family. She made me feel so welcomed. I learned so much more about music, and I was blessed because I became able to hit high notes I never thought I could. She was a great instrument of encouraging me to go further using my God given talent. And in doing so I traveled the country singing on different Christian TV programs, and leading Praise and Worship at different conferences across the country. Thank You for Being Who God made you to be, and making all of your Students feel so Special. And Jon and Damaris, I am so sorry there is nothing greater then having to say goodbye for a season to momma. But can you imagine the music she is making now in the heavens.
03-02-2016 Randy Moze
Juanita was the most optimistic, kindhearted person who remained calm throughout the stresser in her life. She was full of knowledge and full of life with a story that no one else could tell about her past experiences. I feel honored to have been part of her life. It was a pleasure to experience her positive outlook and meet Damaris and Jon. Deb and I mourn her passing and yet celebrate her life filled with local contributions to East TN.
03-02-2016 Richard Williams
Prayers for the peace that passes all understanding, for the family. Juanita was a colleague and a friend. She had a great choral program at DCHS. Glad I got to know and work with her...
03-02-2016 Teresa Church West
Jon, I extend my condolences for your loss and I pray that God holds you in the palm of his hand.
03-02-2016 Rev William Barnhart
Mrs Ruetz was more than a favorite teacher. She was a mentor and friend. I met her when I joined the Glee Club at David Crockett and learned quickly I couldn't sing. She taught me so much and it began by singing jingle bells with her. I later joined the choir and the Crockett Congregation. All these classes were my senior year 89-90. I had a blast! Such a wonderful and blessed teacher. Today, I sing for families that have lost loved ones at wakes and funerals. I have always given Mrs Ruetz credit for teaching me so well this gift I truly love. I love you and will miss you Mrs Ruetz! Rest well.. we will see you again. My heartfelt and sincere condolences to her family and friends. She had a gift only God could supply and she humbly passed it to along to so many. God Bless you all!
03-02-2016 Ron Scalf
Jon: I am so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
03-02-2016 Jimmy Neil Smith
Juanita Ruetz was a treasure to all of us who knew her and those who benefited from her many musical gifts to our community. I am thinking of you, Jon!
03-02-2016 Nancy Baker
My condolences to your family. Mrs. Ruetz was loved by my daughter, Dana Baker and she would have wanted me to express my deepest sympathy to your family. May God bless, Nancy Baker
03-02-2016 NancyHope Major
Joh, sorry to hear of your mother's passing. hold tight to memories, of all the good she did and that God will be with you always. NancyHope Major
03-02-2016 Vickie Holtsclaw Johnson
Jon and Damaris, my heartfelt sympathy and prayers are with you. Your mother was my vocal mentor from 7th grade at Jonesborough through 1974 at DCHS. She is why I sing today! She was truly a blessing to each student and each person she came in contact with. Her vocal lessons and training in my life are immeasurable. I will never forget her and treasure the gifts she gave me. You were so blessed to have her as a mother and friend! She and Jerry were the perfect couple and I know she was so happy to see him again! She will truly be missed!
03-02-2016 John & Jenny Kelinger
Jon & Darius, we are so sorry to hear of Juanita's passing. You all are in our thoughts and prayers.
03-02-2016 John & Jenny Kelinger
Jon & Darius, we are so sorry to hear of Juanita's passing. You all are in our thoughts and prayers.
03-01-2016 J.Shannon Zukas
The four years of Crockett Congregation and several after that was a pleasure to have been in her company..She did SO much more than educate music.She taught respect and to say what you mean and mean what you say....she saw the potential in a bunch of bull-headed teenagers and turned them into talents that range in every field.Those years with her cross my mind often,always with a smile..Nashville trips as an adult proved that she was also a wonderful friend,as well as a mentor...love and prayers to her children,that we all know she adored.
03-01-2016 Danny & Becky Reece
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Your mother was truly loved. She helped mold our lives more than words can say. Mrs. Ruetz, who insisted that we call her Juanita after graduation, was a special person that cared about her students beyond just getting them through school. She played a huge part in Becky and I being together and we will always thank her for that. Juanita will always have a special place in our hearts and of her we have the fondest memories. May the God who provides all Grace beyond measure, comfort you during this time. She will be missed.
03-01-2016 Bernice Blankenship Ledford
I'm so sorry for your loss, our prayers and thoughts are with you.Mrs Ruetz was my music teacher at Jonesboro and Crockett. She was a great teacher, she cared about her students , a darling lady. She also knew my father in law, Ross Ledford, but she called him Beed. There are so many wonderful memories of going to music classes with her as my teacher , but there's not enough room on here. She is now in Heaven singing to our Lord, with her lovely voice.
03-01-2016 Russell Jackson
My condolences to the family. Mrs Ruetz has always had a special place in my heart from the moment I walked in to her class as a tough young kid. She believed in me, and instilled confidence in me that I have carried with me my whole life. I'll never forget her.
03-01-2016 Joe W.
My deepest sympathies.


Dillow-Taylor is a third generation family-owned business...established in 1929

Dillow-Taylor Funeral Home and Cremation Services
P.O. Box 98, Highway 11-E, Jonesborough, Tennessee 37659
Office: 423.753.3821   Fax: 423.753.7409

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Saturday: 8am - 5pm
Sunday: 12pm - 4pm


Copyright ©2019 Dillow-Taylor Funeral Home and Cremation Services. All Rights Reserved.
Programming & Web Development by Jeff Forrester.