After a long, courageous battle with cancer, Mary Elizabeth “Liz” Perusich passed away at home in the presence of her family on July 23, 2021.
The 6th child born in a family of ten, she was born on September 29, 1943 in Altus, Arkansas to Mike and Fannie Leding. Her father worked in mines throughout the US; and the family eventually made Montana their home.
As a teen, she was involved in a car accident which severely injured her right hand. The family could not afford the surgeries needed, so she took it upon herself to correct things, and in true “Liz fashion”–taught herself to use her left hand–never looking back or feeling sorry for herself.
Shortly after graduating from Butte High School in 1962, she married Jim Ruark and started her family. Between 1962 and 1967, she became “Mom” to Lori, Jim, Scott, and Mark. Raising four children on a waitress’s wage wasn’t easy; but she did it and taught her kids the importance of hard, honest work at a very young age. In all, she worked at numerous establishments in Butte including the Egger’s café; Burger Crown; McDuff’s; and Perkins. After retiring from waitressing, she worked at The Western Meat Block. She never met a stranger and developed many lifelong friendships through her work.
In the early 1970s, she and Jim divorced; but remained friends. In 1974, she married Denny Perusich and had her 5th child–our baby brother, Ralph. She always made sure each of her children were well taken care of and all of their needs were met. Ralphie was the baby of the family and loved very much by his older siblings. His death in 2008 brought much sadness; but like so many times before, we looked to our mom for strength and guidance and found it. We always counted on her to be our rock. Each time, she came through. She will be so missed.
After Denny passed in 2005, Liz found a very special relationship with Jim Steber. Jim and Liz were able to travel together and enjoy life. Our family thanks Jim and his family for being so good to her and showing her the love and care she deserved.
Liz was preceded in death by her parents; in-laws Ed & Ethel Ruark and Bill & Marge Perusich; husband Denny Perusich; son Ralph Perusich; brothers John, Cletus, Jerry, and Bob Leding; sisters Fran Hubner and Dorothy Minudri.
She is survived by daughter Lori; sons and daughters-in-law Jim & Paula Ruark, Scott & Nancey Ruark, Mark & Marcee Ruark; sister and brother-in-law Barb and Michael Hurley; brothers and sisters-in-law Tom & Sherrie Leding and Jim & Jan Leding. She deeply loved her grandchildren. They are Jim, Beau, and Eddie Ruark; Luke and Michelle Kenworthy; and Ralph’s children Matt, Levi, and Bret. Great-grandchildren are Colton & Kolby Kenworthy and Landon Brill. Liz’s former husband, Jim Ruark survives her; as does her companion Jim Steber and the entire Steber family, including Archie; Denny’s son and daughter-in-law Bill and Lynnelle and their children Jake Perusich and Whitney and Eric Wixsten; great-grandchildren Ella and Wyatt Wixsten; her best friends Rita Vires and Connie Galasso; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Cremation and private family graveside services have taken place. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
Butte Food Bank, 1019 E. Second Street, Butte, MT 59701
St. Jude’s Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105
Butte Unity Truth Center, 300 S. Montana Street, Butte, MT 59701
Please visit below to offer a condolence or share a memory of Liz.
Axelson Funeral and Cremation Services has been privileged to care for Liz and her family.