The Passing of our Friend, Roxanne Struthers
The Passing of our Friend, Roxanne Struthers

We mourn the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Roxanne Struthers. Please include her and her family in your prayers. The following is her obituary as published in the Star Tribune by Ben Cohen.

December 15, 2005

Roxanne Struthers, who grew up a poor farm girl in Sugar Bush Township
on the White Earth Reservation, knew early on that she wanted to be a

Roxanne worked in a senior citizens home as a teenager, became a nurse's aide, and eventually was one of only 14 American Indians to hold doctorates in nursing. “She had a dream that she was supposed to be a healer,” said her daughter, Julie Marson of Marysville, Wash.

The University of Minnesota School of Nursing professor died of leukemia in St. Paul on Saturday. She was 53.

Struthers melded the healing aspects of her culture with her skills in medicine. During her career as a registered nurse she worked on Indian reservations.

Struthers earned her Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Minnesota 1999, conducted research on the health of Indians, especially in the tribes of Minnesota and the Northwest. Her scholarly work focused on tobacco use, diabetes, and traditional healing and healers.

She worked to record and preserve concepts of Indian medicine and healing that often existed only in oral form. Tribal elders assured her that putting it down on paper was appropriate and timely, wrote her daughter Julie in a biography of her mother.

Struthers made presentations across the country and overseas, taught nursing students at the university and has written or cowritten nearly a dozen publications or works about to be published.

"What is so remarkable about Dr. Struthers is that she was an exemplary teacher, scholar and practicing nurse," said Connie Delaney, dean and professor of the U of M School of Nursing.

"She fully lived, personally, her Native-American values as well," Delaney said.

Struthers, whose tribal name is Falling Snow, was born and raised on the White Earth Indian Reservation, where she worked and raised her children. She moved to the metro area in 1996 to begin work on her doctorate.

In addition to her daughter Julie, she is survived by her husband of 34 years, James Struthers, of Coon Rapids; sons, Jesse, of Mounds View, and John, of Apple Valley; another daughter, Jodi Stark, of Coon Rapids; brothers, Bob Shimek, of Bemidji, Minn., and Rodney Sullivan, of Mahnomen, Minn., and four granddaughters.