In Memoriam: Angels never die

By Ronald Ebrecht

Ruth Lapides. Photo by Susan Lapides.

The community has suffered a terrible loss, and many mourn this Ruthless event.

Ruth Lapides entered the cultural scene in Waterbury c. 1937. The young Miss Rosenberg, a boarding student at the Episcopal School, Saint Margaret’s, was considered to play the part of Mary for the Nativity. But someone decided that a non-speaking role might be more appropriate for a Jewish girl in a Christmas pageant, so our Ruthie was cast as an angel. She loved to embellish this story, and many others. This one is especially telling. Beautiful and blond, with sparkling blue eyes, she was indeed an angel.

Her debut was outside the box. She liked it so much, she never looked back. Ruthie loved Christian holidays and Jewish ones, found sporting events just as much fun as cultural ones, charity balls as interesting as society affairs. She believed that any occasion that justified a party was worthy of being celebrated. If she endorsed an event, the doors swung wide to her home, and to her heart.

For 54 years, she was married to her gentle, handsome husband, Bob. They were such opposites that it was a treat to observe them. The love they shared was touchingly deep and uncommonly long-lived. It was a marriage of constant romance, from the wedding at the Plaza Hotel, to their 50th anniversary on Hunting Hill – great dinner, great entertainment, great setting, style and spunk.

Ruthie was a loving mother, but convention did not dictate her life. She was also an artist – an accomplished sculptor and painter. Ruthie had a fabulous, timeless flare for fashion and artistic jewelry. She was a gardener, a decorator, and an ardent advocate for almost all arts disciplines. She liked jazz and classical music, fine dining and deli-diving. She was just as happy to go for a tuna melt and root beer float as a Roquefort soufflé and filet mignon. At Ruthie’s memorial, her granddaughter Sofia remarked with humor that “other people’s grandmothers make cookies and see them off to school. Mine never bakes and stays up until 3am.” Yes, but what a listener and patient adviser.

Ruthie’s belief in the necessity of strong arts institutions was elemental. She fostered them for their importance to each individual and to the community as a whole. She was a member of many boards and was a supporter of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, the Yale Center for British Art, Creative Arts Workshop, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History, and the Yale University Art Gallery. Her bronze sculpted Arts Award “AC” represents her belief about the arts being muscular and simple, solid and weighty. With her sculpture, Ruthie tells us that the arts are essential and strong – and not for wimps.

Ruthie was a wonderful friend to many. Her phone rang constantly late into the night. She never gave up her three telephone lines which were always lit. It was my great honor and privilege to have had Ruth and Bob as close friends. I share with all the hope that Ruthie’s light, like those on her phone lines, continues to shine in our community. After all, angels never die.


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