Ruth Whitmore Williams, 75, of Gladwyne, an educator and philanthropist who lived up to her motto, "Love, teach, share," died Friday, May 6, of respiratory failure at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
"A dedicated trustee since 1994 and a loyal Scot forever, Ruth leaves behind - on this campus and in the hearts of her many, many friends - a legacy that will never be forgotten," said Georgia Nugent, interim president of the College of Wooster, which Mrs. Williams revered and supported.
Born in Summit, N.J., she lived there until entering Wooster, in Ohio, in 1958. A year later, she met A. Morris Williams Jr. on a summer job in Vermont.
The two were married June 7, 1961, after which she joined her husband, already a student, at Duke University. Mrs. Williams received a bachelor's degree in education in 1963 from Duke, and her husband a master's degree in teaching that same year.
He went on to become a partner in the investment management firm Miller, Anderson & Sherrerd, at the time in West Conshohocken, before founding the investment firm Williams & Company in 1997.
Starting in 1974 and continuing for almost 30 years, Mrs. Williams taught preschool-aged children at the Gateway School. Midway through her career, she also assumed the role of school director. Under her tenure, the school moved twice, eventually to its current site on Old Gulph Road, Wynnewood.
After retiring in the early 2000s from Gateway, Mrs. Williams stayed involved in education by volunteering at the Thomas M. Peirce Elementary School in North Philadelphia. She helped reopen and staff the school's then-closed library.
"That was typical of her love of children and education, and her desire to help," her husband said.
The Williamses made their mark in philanthropy.
In October 2013, the College of Wooster, where Mrs. Williams later served on the board of trustees, announced a $15 million gift from the couple.
The donation, the largest in the college's then 150-year history, was earmarked to help build a new integrated science building, endow a professorship, and provide scholarships. The building will be called the Ruth W. Williams Hall of Science.
"Science plays a critical role in so many aspects of life today, and Wooster's strength in the sciences is deep and long-standing," Mrs. Williams said in a press release issued by the college. "Putting those two things together, Morris and I felt this was the perfect way to do something significant for Wooster, for society, and most importantly, for the students who will take their Wooster education out into the world to make a difference."
Mrs. Williams, who enjoyed classical music, supported many local causes. A favorite was Vox Ama Deus, a nonprofit musical performance group. She sang with the ensemble and served as its board chair.
She also supported Project HOME, the Salvation Army, the Free Library of Philadelphia, CARE, Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Children's Literacy Initiative.
She served as president of the Pine Tree Foundation, which enhances educational opportunities for children. She also was an elder of the Gladwyne Presbyterian Church.
Besides her husband of nearly 55 years, she is survived by daughters Susan Beltz and Joanne Markman and four grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at Gladwyne Presbyterian Church, 1321 Beaumont Dr., Gladwyne. Burial is private.
Donations may be made to Vox Ama Deus, P.O. Box 203, Gladwyne, Pa. 19035, or the College of Wooster, Office of Development, c/o Laurie Houck, 1189 Beall Ave., Wooster, Ohio 44691.