Katrina + 10

Ruth Rae Marsden, 78, Pass Christian

Ruth Rae Marsden was almost as sweet on life as she was on her apple crisp parfait, whose recipe she included in the family reunion cookbook some 20 years ago.

"She loved sweets, but that's a family failing. We all do," said her cousin Lee Igoe Bruce of Abingdon, Md. "If you could bake it and add ice cream, you'd find 25 people in the family stand up and cheer."

But the family joie de creme glacee blossomed into a full-blown joie de vivre in Ruth. Love saturated her life - her husband, her family, cooking and needlework - all were sewn together to create the warm quilt in which she would wrap herself.

"She was the person who would enter into whatever the day brought forth," Bruce said. "She was very friendly and outgoing. She never met a stranger."

Of all of the almost eight decades she was on Earth, Ruth was with her husband, Chuck, for six of them. Family memories of the Marsdens are recollected in the plural, as they are remembered as an inseparable unit more than two distinct individuals.

"They held hands whenever they were together," said Caroline Rudisill, Bruce's daughter. "They loved each other without reserve. They loved to laugh."