Ruth Banks Gillespie

Date of Birth

September 3rd, 1918

Date of Death

May 3rd, 2013

Memorial Meeting

Phoenix Monthly Meeting


Ruth was born to William G Banks and Ruth B. Lark on September 3, 1918, in New Haven Connecticut. She graduated from New Haven State Teacher’s College in 1938 and worked in the 1940’s as a teacher in a small historically black college in Georgia. She then worked for several years as a social worker. When asked if this exposure to troubled lives ever depressed her, she said, “No, I feel good for being able to help.”

Ruth married Rudolph Gillespie in New York City in 1949. They moved to Phoenix in the 1960’s.

When they were contemplating their move to Arizona, Rudy called the phone number for Phoenix Meeting and asked if we knew if there were any motels in which black persons would be welcome. Rik and Virginia Anderson, who were members of Meeting and who answered this call, invited Rudy and Ruth to stay with them until they could settle themselves. Another Phoenix Friend found them an apartment where they lived for many years. Ruth and Rudy became active and loyal attenders of Phoenix Meeting.

Aside from her profession, Ruth had several hobbies which included reading, sewing, and attending the Phoenix Symphony with another member of Meeting, Lou Jeanne Catlin.

Rudy died in 1971. After Rudy’s death, Ruth stayed on for several years before moving to senior housing in South Phoenix.

Ruth formally became a member of Meeting by convincement in 1987 at the age of 69. In the early years after 2000, she moved to the Thunderbird Retirement Resort where she lived until her death on May 3, 2013. She is survived by two sisters - Elizabeth Banks Allen and Lois Banks, and two brothers - Robert Banks and William Banks. She is also survived by her nieces, Leslie Allen and Sydney Allen, and her nephew Alex Allen, and numerous grand and great-grand nieces and nephews.