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Memorials: Albuquerque Friends Meeting

Ruth Corwin Meyer

Date of birth

Sept. 21, 1933

Date of death

May 11, 2017


Albuquerque Friends Meeting

Memorial minute

Ruth Corwin Meyer, a birthright Friend, died May 11, 2017, in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.  Born September 21, 1933, in Rochester, New York, she was the only child of Elizabeth and George Corwin, founders of the Wilton Connecticut Monthly Meeting.  Ruth began piano lessons in grade school with a teacher who told her parents she had no aptitude. Fortunately they found a more insightful teacher. Ruth went on to study piano and French horn at the Conservatory at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and graduated in 1955.  She earned an M.A. in music at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and received a Fulbright in 1957 to study at the Mozarteum Academy for Music and the Performing Arts in Salzburg, Austria. At the Mozarteum Ruth met Martin Beat Meyer, a Swiss student of conducting.  They were married under the care of the Wilton Friends Meeting, and on completing their studies, lived briefly in Switzerland, then in the United States.

After their divorce in 1965 Ruth moved to Boulder to begin a doctoral program in musical arts at the University of Colorado.   Her first teaching position was at the Oberlin Conservatory, having been invited to replace her own professor, Jack Radunsky, for the 1969 fall semester.  Finishing her degree in 1970, Ruth taught piano for two years at Western Colorado University in Gunnison. There she became a close friend of oboist Forest Cornwell, his wife Jessie, and their three children, a relationship that endured and flourished through the years.  Later, the family moved to Montana and Ruth to Portales to chair the piano department at Eastern New Mexico University, but she visited many summers and at Christmastime. They became her adopted family.

At Eastern, Ruth taught piano, piano pedagogy, and piano literature and also ran the  piano preparatory department. With her colleagues, violinist Katherine Thayer and cellist Art Welker, she played for several years in a trio.   An outstanding teacher, Ruth always treated her students with patience and great respect. She cared for them as individuals: if they were struggling financially she found a way to help them earn money.  They would sometimes live or travel with her. For many of them, her teaching was an “incomparable gift.”

Upon retirement in 1989,  Ruth moved to Rio Rancho, NM, where she continued to teach pedagogy and piano to area teachers.  She also tutored math at a local middle school. A brain aneurysm in 1994 abruptly changed Ruth's way of living.  Losing her short-term memory ended her independence but did not dim her buoyant, warm, generous spirit. When her assisted living facility closed, Brenda Oates, the manager, invited Ruth to live in her Paradise Hills home where she became part of a vibrant extended family.  Nor did Ruth lose the ability to play music that she already knew or to learn new pieces. She and her friend Janis often played and performed four-hand compositions. Also, her joy and appreciation of live classical music remained strong.

Along with Ruth's devotion to music and her students was her lifelong commitment to the Religious Society of Friends.  Growing up in the Wilton Meeting, she attended First Day School and took part in many Young Friends activities. To celebrate her 50th birthday--“a gift to myself” Ruth called it--she took leave in order to live and study during the 1983-84 academic year at Pendle Hill, the Quaker educational community in Wallingford, Pennsylvania.  For Ruth this was a meaningful new experience. She often spoke about her teacher, Dyck Vermilye, who made a lasting impression. Ruth's bequest to Pendle Hill reflects its deep spiritual influence. In February 1990 she transferred her membership to Albuquerque Monthly Meeting where she contributed a quiet steady presence, coming to meetings of the Peace and Social Concern Committee, enjoying third Sunday potluck lunches.  Ruth played at the 60th Anniversary of the founding of Albuquerque Meeting and bequeathed the Corwin family Bible to the Meeting.

She is survived and remembered by her friends, many of them former students.  A joyful memorial meeting to celebrate Ruth's life was held at the Albuquerque Friends Meeting House  on July 15, 2017.

--Gail Baker