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Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas University
University Archives & Manuscripts - Exhibits
First Ladies of K-State: Ruth Ann Wefald

Ruth Ann (Joynt) Wefald


Ruth Ann Joynt was born on February 28, 1940, in Alma, MI, the daughter of Raymond and Sylvia (Holmlund) Joynt. She spent two years studying at Smith College before finishing her history degree at the University of Michigan. After doing her student teaching abroad in Sheffeld, England, she decided to continue her education at Ann Arbor, earning her Master's degree. While attending a play on campus, she met Jon Wefald, also a graduate student in history.

They married after graduation and moved to Livonia, MI, where she taught history at Bentley High School. In 1965, Wefald accepted a position at Gustavus Adolphus College. They remained in Minnesota for twenty years where her husband held a number of positions including Commissioner of Agriculture for the State of Minnesota.

Ruth Ann devoted herself to her family until their sons, Skip and Andy, were in elementary school. She taught in various schools for four years before her husband began his first college presidency at Southwest State University in 1977, when she became a professional volunteer. She founded and served as director of "Mainstay: Equal Opportunities for Homemakers, Inc." offering career counseling and related services. In 1983, she was appointed Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Economic Security's Community Service Division by the governor.

In July 1986 they moved to Manhattan, when Wefald became President of Kansas State University. Among her many community and university priorities was the drive to fund and create the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, dedicated in 1997. In addition to a gallery named for her in the Beach Museum, a studio in Nichols Hall carries her name because of the support she has given the dance department.

Ruth Ann was named Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the year in 1997 in recognition for her service to the community.

In the summer of 2009, Ruth Ann and Jon retired after
serving as first lady and president of K-State for 23 years

Ruth Ann Wefald

Biographical information on the First Ladies was provided by:
Dr. Michaeline Chance-Reay, Assistant Professor, Women's Studies and COE, author of Land Grant Ladies: Kansas State University Presidential Wives