There’s just something about balmy summer days at the beach, camping in the great outdoors and plenty of sunshine that makes ice cream an absolute necessity of life. In 1969, Charles (Buck) Redding, an engineer by trade, recognized a business opportunity and began construction of an ice cream shop on the northern edge of the Muskegon State Park Campground. The new venture opened in 1970 and was named “Jeanie’s” after his wife Jean. The new ice cream shop was an instant success and the Redding family continued to operate Jeanie’s until 1981. It was sold to John and Beverly Reishus in 1982 and they operated the business for one season.
Jeanie’s was renamed “Ruth Ann’s Ice Cream” in 1983 when it was purchased by Wayne and Ruth Ann Holden. Wayne raced cars and proudly displayed the Ruth Ann’s Ice Cream logo on the hood of his racecar.
After two successful seasons, the Holdens were approached by Sharon and Bill Mathes who had fallen in love with the quaint little ice cream shop. The couple purchased the business in 1985. By this time, Ruth Ann’s Ice Cream had become a real travel destination, acquiring a strong following of loyal customers from all over the state. The Mathes family decided to retain the name, and its reputation, and continued to operate their quaint little ice cream shop until 1992.
In 1993, Diane and Bruce Guzin purchased the business and continued the Ruth Ann’s Ice Cream tradition for quality and service. They built a gazebo, planted flower gardens and made other improvements around the property.
One hot and sunny summer day, Lynn Dudek and a friend were traveling along Scenic Drive and stopped in at the quaint little ice cream shop. Like many of the past owners, she fell in love with Ruth Ann’s Ice Cream and asked the Guzins if they would be willing to sell. In 1998, Lynn purchased the property and made numerous improvements to the building and landscaping. She expanded the menu to include her favorite items and continued to add some inventive creations over the next few years.
Ruth Ann got her first set of wheels in 2002 when Lynn purchased two antique bicycle ice cream carts, and had them restored and outfitted with full Ruth Ann’s regalia. The “Ruthie Carts” began appearing at many local events, including Muskegon’s Parties In The Park, The Muskegon Summer Celebration Art Fair, and the Irish Festival. In 2006, the Ruthie Carts began serving ice cream to guests at the Muskegon State Park beach.
In 2007, Ruth Ann got a new set of wheels (well, sort of) when Lynn purchased an antique Cushman Truckster to help bring Ruth Ann’s Ice Cream to customers everywhere. In dire need of repairs, it underwent extensive restoration. It was given a new engine, received a total cosmetic facelift, and was re-christened “the Ruthie Mobile.” Today, the Ruthie Mobile can be seen delivering Ruth Ann’s Ice Cream to parks, beaches, parties and festivals, and appearing in parades, throughout the Muskegon area.