Ruth Brunkhorst Moss

Ruth Brunkhorst Moss was ageless and classic. All of her days were filled with grace, beauty, happiness and joy. She breathed her last on December 9, 2020, at Bishop Spencer Place in Kansas City, her home since 2014.

Ruth was born August 30, 1921, in Sedalia, Mo., the third of five daughters of Manie and Harry Brunkhorst. From small town beginnings through the Great Depression and WWII to taking on big city life in Kansas City and living through the COVID-19 pandemic, her journey through life was quite the adventure.

Ruth touched countless lives during her 99 years. She filled a room with her radiant smile. You may read this and recall a warm greeting, friendly call, caring note or her patient, intent listening that filled your heart and made you smile too.

With an eye for art, Ruth surrounded herself with its beauty. She and her husband, Tully, filled their home with extraordinary artworks by talented artists from around the world.

Ruth never tired of opening our eyes to the power of art to take your breath away with its beauty. For over 50 years, she relished her role as a volunteer docent at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

She also appreciated many opportunities to study artists’ works when she took over the Henry Ruth Fine Arts appraisal business after Tully’s death in 1989. Many a librarian in the Nelson’s Art Reference Library hunted and searched for just the right volume she needed as she studied a painter’s brushstroke or the delicate detail of a ceramic. She was always profoundly grateful for their patience and guidance.

Ruth’s ceaseless appetite for learning nourished her throughout her life. She always had a KC Studio, Arts & Antiques magazine, Bon Appetit or Wall Street Journal by her chair. Her study group, Alternate Tuesday Club, gave her innumerable hours of intense fascination as she explored the world and all of its diversity.

Her masterpieces were her children, Tully Moss of Hingham, Mass., Melinda McNamara (Don) of Peoria, Ariz. and Elaine Smoot (John) of Hingham, Mass. She infused them with the richness of generosity, curiosity and grace.

Ruth’s spirit carries on in all of us, including her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, her niece and nephews, their families, and a world of friends. We like to think her husband, Tully, has already greeted her with one of his big smooches and guided her, hand in hand, onward through eternity.

We await the day when the world opens up again so we also can greet family and friends with a big hug and kiss. For now, no services are planned.

If you would like to make a donation in memory of Ruth, please consider a contribution in her name to the education program at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to encourage the next generation of art lovers.

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  1. Barbara J. Bucker on December 15, 2020 at 8:20 pm

    I met Ruth at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral. Sometimes we would go to lunch and then to a concert at the Kaufman. We both were delighted when that wonderful concert venue opened. May she Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory!

  2. Debbie Gates on December 16, 2020 at 8:22 am

    Dear Melinda, Elaine and Tully,
    Please accept my heartfelt condolences for the loss of your mom. What a long and engaged life your mother enjoyed! And she was blessed with the attentiveness of the three of you. Thinking of you and sending love.
    Debbie Thompson Gates

  3. Rosalie Rastorfer on December 16, 2020 at 7:49 pm

    Ruth Moss was the ideal docent at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. She is what any docent would aspire to be, with her knowledge of the arts and her ability to share what she knew. Not only was she a docent for many years, but she frequented the galleries for even more years after her retirement. Always kind and ever gracious, she was a gift to us all.

  4. Whit McCoskrie on December 17, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    What a great person. My folks Isabel and Joe McCoskrie and stepfather, Ralph Kiene were lifelong friends. Mom always enjoyed her work as a docent at the gallery with Ruth.

    Growing up in KC a bunch of families would meet for breakfast on Labor and Memorial Day at one of the parks. Ruth always had a lovely and welcoming smile.

    God bless you Ruth.

  5. Donna Knoell (and Jim Royer) on December 18, 2020 at 3:17 am

    Melinda, Elaine and Tully, both Jim and I want to extend our heartfelt sympathy to you on the loss of your precious mother. It was a joy to speak with Melinda earlier this week, and I told her how special our visits were with Ruth. She made everyone feel welcome, with her genuine warm smile, graceful listening, and rich conversational skills. She will be greatly missed. She had a life well-lived, and she greatly enriched the lives of others at every turn! May she Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory!

  6. Cathy Hedlund on December 19, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    Ruth was one of the loveliest people I’ve known. Years ago we were neighbors on High Drive, and our paths occasionally crossed over the years on the tennis courts and at the Nelson Museum. She exuded a genuine warmth, love of friends and life. My sincere sympathy to you on her passing.

  7. Katie Horner on December 21, 2020 at 10:58 am

    I first met Ruth on the tennis court at the Carriage Club. I admired her ability and agility in spite of a bad back which caused her pain and prevented her from standing straight. We played tennis in a group for years. She never uttered a negative phrase and would often encourage me to rephrase my thoughts in a more positive way.

    Being a docent and an art appraiser, she was fascinating to talk to about art of all time periods. I learned much art information each time we talked.

    I will certainly miss her but I cherish all the wonderful memories when we were together.

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