Ruth Jeanette Wagman
July 11, 1920 – November 1, 2019
Ruth Jeanette Wagman died of natural causes in her home on November 1, 2019. Ruth is pre-deceased by her husband of 52 years, Frederick Wagman and is survived by her daughter, Elizabeth Gaidos of California, and her son, William of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ruth is also survived by three grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, one great-great grandchild and six nieces and nephews. Ruth was born on July 11, 1920 in Detroit, Michigan. She was a graduate of Central High School and Wayne State University. Shortly after graduation, Ruth began teaching in the Detroit Public School system. In November of 1941, she married Frederick Wagman, and instructor at the University of Minnesota, and moved to Minneapolis. Their time in Minnesota was short however as World War II broke out a few weeks later. Ruth and her husband both took jobs with the War Department (now the Department of Defense) as censors and were stationed in New Orleans, Miami and Washington DC for the next four years. Ruth’s job; was to read mail from soldiers and sailors overseas, removing anything that involved orders, troop movements or troop strength. With his fluency in German, her husband translated mail in that language for the nation’s intelligence community. Following the war, Ruth taught in the Washington DC schools system. When her husband became an administrator for the Library of Congress, she turned her attention to her young family. She moved to Ann Arbor in 1952 when her husband became Director of University of Michigan Libraries. A lifelong member of the Democratic Party, Ruth campaigned for Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey. She was an active member of the Ann Arbor chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews and was a member of several parent-teacher organizations. As an empty nester in the 1970’s, Ruth began volunteering at the Humane Society of Huron Valley. For more than twenty years, she worked tirelessly to find homes for unwanted cats and kittens. She often took out ads in the local newspaper at her own expense to attract prospective owners. Known to her friends as “The Cat Lady” of Ann Arbor, Ruth was able to save thousands of cats from euthanasia and was honored for her service in 1992 by Washtenaw Citizens for Animal Rights. Ruth was also a fierce defender of wildlife and a supporter of several national and international wildlife organizations. The backyards of her homes were always alive with birds, squirrels and other animals. At her request, there will be no funeral service for Ruth but a memorial service may be held at a later date. She has asked that donations be directed to the Humane Society of Huron Valley or The Bird Center of Washtenaw County. Ruth’s family would like to thank Arbor Hospice and Bee At Home Care for making Ruth’s last days as comfortable as possible.