Geologist Ruth A.M. Schmidt Leaves Bequests to Conservation

Jun 12, 2014
Lisa Oakley

She lived a remarkable life. A woman geologist at a time when there were only male colleagues in her field, Dr. Ruth A.M. Schmidt built a career that spanned a half century. She came to Alaska in 1956 while working for the US Geological Survey and never left. In 1959 she began inspiring future generations of geologists when she began teaching at the Anchorage Community College, later the University of Alaska, Anchorage. She taught for twenty-five years.

Ruth Schmidt in the 1950's. Photo courtesy of Sally Gibert.

Ruth Schmidt in the 1950’s. Photo courtesy of Sally Gibert.

Ruth Schmidt was known for her straight-forward, no nonsense manner. She would look you in the eye and expect answers to her questions. Upon learning of her illness, she promptly set about putting her affairs in order. That included finalizing her will in which she designated bequests to twenty-two charities, most of which operate and/or are based in Alaska, nearly half of which are organizations that work to protect Alaska’s natural environment. She also made bequests to social service, cultural and scientific organizations.

Trustees for Alaska was one of her beneficiaries. Prior to her illness and death she had been a steady donor, however we never knew she had left Trustees in her will. We are grateful that she believed in our work that much. Apparently she was that way – never talking about herself or wanting special attention. Described by her friends as frugal, she left a lasting legacy to the organizations she loved best. We are grateful to be among them.

“Ruth’s dry sense of humor and wonderful smile lightened up all around her. Her love of nature and her desire to keep it intact for all to enjoy, now and in the future, is a beacon for us to follow,” said Trustees founder Peg Tileston, “She was a very special person. Thank you, Ruth.”

Learn more about Ruth Schmidt and her scientific work.

Read her obituary.

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