The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Ruth Jones and Rita Kilstrom Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Mike Dicianna.

August 21, 2014


Ruth Martin and Rita Jo Young were both born in 1938 and became friends a few years later as kindergarten pupils at Corvallis' Harding School. Both also grew up in Corvallis.

Young was the daughter of D. Palmer Young, an Oregon State College alum and an early professor of speech and theater craft at his alma mater. Rita's mother was Catherine Young, a technical illustrator who drafted a set of early campus maps and who also assisted OSC Botany professor Helen Gilkey by drawing botanical illustrations for publication. Martin, the daughter of a retail lumberman, spent her entire life in Corvallis.

Martin and Young entered Oregon State College in 1955 and both eventually majored in Education. As college students, Martin and Jones pledged to sororities, though not the same houses: Ruth joined Alpha Omicron Pi and Rita pledged Alpha Chi Omega. Throughout their OSC years, the two friends stayed heavily involved with campus theater productions, though almost always in backstage roles, typically focusing on costumes, props or make-up. After completing their undergraduate work, both women pursued careers in education and both eventually completed their master's degrees in Education from Oregon State. Later in life, Rita Kilstrom established herself as a quilter of regional consequence.