Ruth Himmelman Wright

(Sigma-Washington) (1924-2008)RuthWright.jpg

Ruth Himmelman Wright attended Washington University in Seattle, Wash., where she was a part of the Sigma chapter.  Ruth began her major service to the Fraternity in 1964 as District Governor in California and Arizona. She soared to the International Executive Board in 1966 as Director of Chapters in the Western region and then as Vice President, Collegiate Programs from 1967-70. She was elected to the preeminent Board of Trustees in 1976 and from 1978-82 served as chairman. Offered the presidency of the Fraternity, she declined so that younger women might assume the position. Catherine Roberti recalls that when her mother was asked to chair the Alpha Phi Foundation's Capital Campaign in 1988,Ruth said, "What do I know about fundraising?" But she learned. The campaign's goal was $1,500,000, but by its conclusion in1992 had raised $2,035,938 for Executive Office expansion, scholarships, the Forget Me Not Fund and programs. This was the Fraternity achievement of which Ruth was most proud.


Ruth took thoughtful risks to advance the organization. Ruth never sought center stage. Her work style was collegial and collaborative. She drew others in and acknowledged and appreciated their efforts, often deflecting credit for achievements. Many officers in the Fraternity recall meeting her early in their volunteer careers and later being remembered by Ruth even after long periods of time. Most of the women contributing to this tribute regarded her as their mentor. She was a "bridge between the ages," as one describes it.


For her accomplishments, she was recognized with the Fraternity's top honor, the Ivy Vine Award in 1992, and at Convention 2008 she received her 65-year membership pin in front of 600 applauding Conventioneers. Ruth lived - really lived - up until her last moment. In her final year she had conceived of an ambitious Alpha Phi history project. With failing strength she brought herself to Convention in June to confer with others and finalize plans for this endeavor. Her thoughts in her last moments of life were of this program to enhance the Fraternity's heritage appreciation. Such characteristic devotion rightly earned her the admiration and love of many, who will miss Ruth's eloquent grace and kindly guidance.

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