July 25, 1925 — March 6, 2016
M. Ruth Niswander, a lifetime trustee of the Elmwood Franklin School and Buffalo Seminary, died March 6 in her home in Davis, Calif. She was 90.
Born in Omaha, Neb., the former Ruth Fowler came to Buffalo as a child when her father moved here to establish an ophthalmology practice.
She was recognized in elementary school for her talent as a writer, for which she received the Barbara Porter Cup when she graduated from what was then the Elmwood School in 1939. A 1943 graduate of Buffalo Seminary, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in 1946.
She went on to receive a master’s degree in education from the University of Buffalo and a master’s degree in English from the University of California Davis.
In 1969, Mrs. Niswander moved to California when her husband, who had been chief of obstetrics at Children’s Hospital, became chairman of obstetrics at University of California Davis. She returned annually to spend summer and fall at the family cottage on the Canadian lake shore.
Known for her letter writing, as a Buffalo Seminary trustee she sent thousands of handwritten thank-you letters to school donors. She also corresponded with a childhood friend daily for 40 years and regularly contributed letters to the editor in The Buffalo News.
An early advocate of environmental causes, she established an environmental education fund at Elmwood Franklin School and wrote countless letters to officials about environmental protection.
Survivors include her husband of 67 years, Dr. Kenneth; a daughter, Sally Graas; three sons, Dr. David, Dr. Philip and Paul; a sister, Dr. Sara “Sally” Fowler Burchell; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in Buffalo this summer.