In Memoriam

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Ruth Susan Hahnel Watson ’43

Ruth Susan Hahnel Watson ’43, February 19, 2015, in Vancouver, Washington. Ruth grew up in Portland, where her father worked for the Oregon Journal. She earned a BA from Reed in general literature, writing her thesis, “The Propaganda Value of War Fiction,” with Prof. Victor L.O. Chittick [English 1921–48]. A year before graduating, she married Edward G. Watson ’43. Ruth went on to study education at Hastings College in Nebraska, taught high school in Portland, and worked in the library at Whitman College. After earning an MLS from the University of Washington, she became the director of the Coos Bay Public Library and the director of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library, where she oversaw major growth and expansion of the library system over two decades. She was a member of numerous professional, community, and service organizations, including the American Library Association, the Pacific Northwest Library Association, the AAUW, and the YWCA. Ruth and Ed parted ways in 1966, but remained lifelong friends in the care of their daughter and son. Ruth’s partner, Luci Graffunder, preceded her in death. Ruth is remembered as forthright, honest, fair, accomplished, and compassionate. Her life lesson was “to rise above most conflicts, never sink to low or unethical levels, be honest, be direct and you will succeed, and, in doing so, you will help others do the same.” Survivors include her children, four grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2015

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