In Memoriam

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Velma Atkinson Jansen Ruff MAT ’54

Velma Atkinson Jansen Ruff MAT ’54, May 19, 2002, in Portland. Velma studied French, Spanish, and history at the University of Illinois, receiving a BA in 1945. She married and raised two sons, teaching school in Illinois before moving to Portland when her husband sought work in the World War II shipyards. Due to a teacher shortage in Portland schools connected with the shipyard population, she taught double shifts of seventh grade students. Velma studied education and history at Reed. After her husband’s death, she received a Fulbright scholarship and taught in Costa Rica for a year. Her experiences there led to a lifelong admiration for the Latino people and their heritage. She also taught in Mexico. In 1957 she married Benjamin Ruff, and for 15 years they traveled throughout Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas, modeling and selling fine garments for the Utah Tailoring Company. Their work as Cow Country Clothes Peddlers was featured in the Christian Science Monitor and Life magazine. She maintained and successfully operated the business when her husband’s health began to fail, eventually moving to Oregon, where he died in 1989. Velma described her life as full of adventure in books, in the classroom, and in the exploration of multiple cultures. "The world is fascinating, life is fascinating," she said.

Appeared in Reed magazine: November 2002

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