In 1947 at the age of 20, Ruth arrived in the Black Hills as a volunteer to help create a memorial honoring the Native American Indian (Crazy Horse Memorial). She helped Korczak prepare the logs for the log studio-home as well as the 741 step wooden staircase to the top of the mountain.
As Ruth & Korczak continued to work together a great love formed. Ziolkowski & Ross were married Thanksgiving Day; November 23, 1950. The Ziolkowski family quickly grew with Ruth & Korczak welcoming 10 children into the world. 5 boys and 5 girls were born in the cabin that Ruth helped build when first moving to the Black Hills.
In the early years at Crazy Horse Memorial, Ruth was in charge of all day-to-day operations. This included the timber mill and dairy farm on the property; the only means of income for the carving and the Ziolkowski family. Ruth was also in charge of the purchasing and spending for the family and the mountain.
After having several health scares Korczak realized that Ruth might one day inherit the responsibility of carrying on the Crazy Horse dream, they prepared 3 books of comprehensive plans for the continuation of the mountain carving. That day arrived in 1982 when Korczak passed away at the age of 74. After Korczak's passing, Ruth started serving as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.
Public sentiment was skeptical that the Crazy Horse dream could continue without Korczak. Armed with the detailed books prepared by her husband; Ruth took the reins and directed Crazy Horse Memorial into a new era. After much contemplation, Ruth decided to shift the mountain carving efforts from the 219 feet high horse's head to the much more manageable 87.5 feet high face of Crazy Horse. Had Ruth not made this decision the mountain carving you see today would be much different.
Ruth is also credited with the expansion of the public facilities to accommodate the growing number of visitors and keep with the Crazy Horse Memorial mission of honoring the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians. Ruth's improvements to the facilities include; a 300 seat theater, a wing to the INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA®, expansions to the parking lot, gift shop, restaurant, viewing veranda expansion, a library, a laser show, and much more. Ruth worked tirelessly to expand on the cultural and educations offerings at Crazy Horse Memorial. Her legacy will also include the additions of the NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL CENTER ® and the INDIAN UNIVERSITY OF NORTH AMERICA ®.
On May 21, 2014, Ruth Ziolkowski passed away after a short battle with cancer. Ruth was laid to rest near Korczak's tomb. The Crazy Horse Dream has been handed to the next generation with 4 of the 10 children and several grandchildren working to continue the legacy of Chief Henry Standing Bear, Korczak Ziolkowski and Ruth Ziolkowski.