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Dr. Ruth E. Burks

1949 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Dr. Ruth E. Burks Obituary
Dr. Ruth Elizabeth Burks, 68 of Bedford, died Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at the Walden Rehab and Nursing Center in Concord, Massachusetts. Born in New York City on April 9, 1949, to Alvin Lee Burks (a biochemist) and Harriette Juanita Burks (a housewife and later a schoolteacher), Ruth showed early promise as an academic. She started reading when she was three, she spent her formative years in honor school, and she skipped a grade in junior high school. In addition to being a great student, Ruth was also a well-rounded person. She was on the cheerleading squad of her high school, and she served as class Vice-President. She also worked after school as a sales representative at Macys and during the summers as a counselor at Camp Minisink in upstate New York. After graduating from George Washington High School, where her classmates voted her Most Likely to Succeed, Ruth went to Boston University to study pre-med. While in Boston, Ruth realized she loved reading and writing more than she did medicine and changed her major to English. She also met and married fellow student Gregory Joel Abbott. In 1968, the couple moved to Berkeley, California, where Ruth enrolled in University of California, Berkeley. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and earned a Masters in Creative Writing. In 1973, Ruth gave birth to a son, Gyasi Omari Burks-Abbott. In 1977, she moved to Los Angeles to attend the American Film Institute. Soon after graduating from the American Film Institute, Ruth enrolled in UCLA to pursue her PhD in English Literature while raising Gyasi on her own (she had divorced Gregory in 1975). After earning her doctorate in 1992, Ruth went on to teach a plethora of film, literature, and writing courses at a variety of colleges and universities across the country and once in the Middle East. Ruths scholarship was as wide-ranging as her teaching and included reviews of Hollywood films and journal articles addressing race relations, disability issues, and the news media. In 2003, Ruth received her Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and at the time of her death, she was writing a profile of her autistic son using a qualitative method she learned at Harvard. Ruth is survived by her son, Gyasi Omari Burks-Abbott; her sisters, Juanita Harriette Burks and Roslyn Alice Burks; her niece, Natasha Kristina Burks; and countless cousins including Linda Burks-Adams, Janet Burks-Grayson, Robert Burks, Mildred E. Fisher, and D. Abdullah (Dukie). Visiting hours at Bedford Funeral Home, 167 Great Road, on Thursday, September 21, from 4:00-6:00pm, followed by a service at 6:30pm. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Ruths memory may be made to the Lurie Center for Autism at MGH, 1 Maguire Road, Lexington, MA 02421.
Published in The Bedford Minutemen from Sept. 16 to Sept. 28, 2017
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