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Ruth Cooperman Greenberg, Friend

Ruth Cooperman Greenberg, October 18, 2008, in West Los Angeles, California, at the age of 93. Ruth had a long association with Reed through her former husband, trustee Mayer Greenberg, and her son, trustee Daniel Greenberg ’62; she also endowed a chair in American Indian Studies in the anthropology department at Reed in 1998. Born in Minneapolis in 1915, Ruth graduated from the University of Minnesota and married Mayer. A lifelong artist and crafts-person, she initially focused on stone and wood sculpture; later she turned her attention to oil painting, wood cuts, pen and ink, fabric arts, and other media. Following her divorce in the mid-’60s, she moved to Malibu, California, and opened the Tidepool Gallery, dedicated to art, craft, and natural objects related to the sea. “The kid who comes in with 25 cents to buy a shell for his mother is just as important to us as the collectors,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 1982. In response to hovering parents, she kept a basket of shells for children to play with labeled “DO Touch.” Her interest in shells led to expeditions to Japan, Oman, and various Pacific Islands, and in 1981 she served as president of the Conchologists of America. A new species of shell was named in her honor. Ruth also had an abiding passion for Native American art and culture, and contributed significantly to their preservation. The small baskets she wove in her later years, from materials she grew and gathered in the wild, are represented in the collections of several museums. The Indians of North America have been a central subject of study for Reed’s anthropology department for many decades, since David French ’39 [1947–88] joined the department in 1948. Ruth’s decision to establish an endowed chair, currently held by Robert Brightman ’73 [1980–], ensured that Reed will continue to contribute to the field. Ruth is survived by her son Daniel and his wife Susan Steinhauser of Los Angeles; and by her son Phillip Greenberg, his partner Annie Stein, and granddaughter Eliana, of Berkeley, California.

Appeared in Reed magazine: February 2009

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