Remembering Ruth Lofgren (1916 – 2018)

January 11, 2019
Communications Team

IONS would like to celebrate the long life of a remarkable woman who for the last two decades, contributed to making the work we do here at IONS possible. Dr. Ruth Lofgren passed away in her home in San Antonio, Texas, on October 31, 2018 one month before her 102nd birthday.

Ruth spent her early years on a small fruit farm in Butlerville, Utah. For the first several years she was taught at home by her educated teacher parents. She learned to explore, study, observe, and assimilate the world around her, as well as learning the practical skills of sewing, nutrition, and gardening. Ruth graduated from East High, and the University of Utah where she earned a B.A. and M.A. in microbiology and chemistry. Ruth earned her Ph.D. in microbiology in 1944 from the University of Michigan and was a pioneer in electron microscopy. She began attending Quaker meetings while a graduate student in Michigan. From 1956 to 1976 she taught ecology and science education at the City University of New York, and developed ways of using video equipment for real-time laboratory lessons in natural science.

On retirement she moved to San Antonio, Texas, where she was active in science, justice, and environmental education and in the Quaker community. She was the guiding force in the creation of the Mitchell Lake Wetlands Society to educate children in environmental science. Her dedication to that effort led to the founding of the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center in 2004. She worked with many San Antonio organizations including the Junior League, League of Women voters, and the Alamo Area Council of Governments, which honored her with a lifetime achievement award. She supported youth agencies, education, and participated as a court watcher.

In 2008, San Antonio’s peaceCENTER named Ruth as their city’s first Peace Laureate, honoring her “voice of wisdom and experience to speak for peace and justice.” In 2017, at the celebration of her 100th birthday she was given the Terry Hershey award honoring her for work in ecology. Click to see a summary of her awards. In her 100th year she continued to inspire those around her. The celebration of her birthday was, at her request, a program on looking forward with hope to the next 100 years for children, peace, justice, and the environment. She was a fierce advocate for children and nature.

Ruth enjoyed world travel, gardening, photography, and sewing and at her 100th birthday celebration she wore a dress she had recently sewn. Ruth was brilliant, practical, capable, and independent and determined to make her community a better place. She was loved by a wide circle of devoted and caring friends.

Here at IONS we are genuinely grateful that her passions included the work we do here; not only did she make an annual gift to IONS for nearly two decades, she also remembered us in her will, ensuring that her legacy as a advocate for learning, exploration, and innovation will continue on. We are truly thankful for her thoughtful generosity.

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