Ruth W. Schmitz

Posted: Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Juneau resident Ruth W. Schmitz, 83, died July 8, 2003, at Bartlett Regional Hospital.

She grew up in New Providence, N.J. At Summit High School, she excelled in science and after graduating, she attended Upsala College of East Orange, N.J. She graduated in 1942 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. She was a chemist and medical librarian, and her family said she was a pioneering user of the Internet.

Her family said she read science fiction avidly. She was a longtime member of Mensa, and served as chairman of the New York City chapter. She voted Democrat, traveled to 34 countries and was a dedicated reader of the Sunday New York Times and the crossword puzzle and book review section in particular. She was a fan of humorist author and WOR radio personality Gene Shepherd. She was also a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the N.Y. Mets.

She was a longtime member of the Hollis Unitarian Church of Queens, N.Y., and she was a member of the Juneau Unitarian Fellowship.

She moved to Juneau in May 1988 and spent many of those years in the Mendenhall Apartments. She lived at Wildflower Court at the time of her death.

After moving to Juneau, she took a number of volunteer positions, including with the Juneau Public Library, the U.S. Forest Service, the state archives and the Juneau Community Charter School.

She wrote that she did not fear death, and leaves this quote from Leo Rosten: "The purpose of life is not to be happy, but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, and to have made some difference that you lived at all."

She is preceded in death by her parents, Otto Craemer Hanser and Lydia Sophie Hanser of New Providence, N.J., and her brother, Otto E. Hanser of Jacksonville, Fla.

She is survived by her son, Richard Schmitz; granddaughters, Emma Lily and Caroline Schmitz, all of Juneau; sister, Alice Harms of Chesterfield, Va.; great-aunt, Emily Schurmann of New Haven, Conn.; many nieces, nephews and cousins; her former husband, Fred W. Schmitz of Irvington, N.Y.; longtime friend and confidant, Malcolm Spensley of Manhattan, N.Y.; close friend, Rodger Cleveland of Juneau; and many other neighbors and friends from her involvement in volunteer and church activities here in Juneau.

The Juneau Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship will organize a memorial service in early September. Contact 586-9467 for details. According to Ruth's wishes, her ashes will be scattered at sea near Juneau and in New York Harbor.

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