Ruth A. Kolwitz
1927 - 2020
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Ruth A. Kolwitz, a registered nurse at the former Mercy Hospital who oversaw emergency and trauma centers and outpatient services, died Thursday at Sunset House. She was 93.

She was in declining health, with heart failure.

Mrs. Kolwitz received her nurse's training at Mercy, on Jefferson Avenue, and retired at age 62, having made her career at the near-downtown hospital.

She worked in the nursery. She was house supervisor on the overnight shift, which allowed her to be home when her daughters went to school.

Later, on the day shift, she had such duties as managing emergency and outpatient services.

"From a professional standpoint, she was firm, but fair," according to a daughter, Susan Kolwitz, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. "With us kids, she was firm, but fair - but also relaxed and fun to be with."

Other daughters - Kathleen Lewis, Barbara Hammons, and Mary Jo Clark - became nurses.

Another daughter, Ann Kolwitz, is a physician.

"She raised us five girls by herself, basically. She just led by example," Susan Kolwitz said. "At some point in time all five of us worked at Mercy Hospital, and my Mom was very well thought of, and we knew that, and we knew we had to live up to that expectation. And that taught us a lot."

Behind her stoicism, she was loving and caring, as family, colleagues, and friends knew, another daughter, Mary Jo Clark, said.

"She was an independent thinker, and she was a strong woman, strong in what she said and did," she said.

Mrs. Kolwitz represented Mercy on a Lucas County committee to develop an emergency 911 system.

In all she did, she knew she had the support of Sister Phyllis Ann Gerold, who was Mercy Hospital chief executive.

"Mercy was special to my mom, because of Sister Phyllis Ann," Susan Kolwitz said. "There were times that Mom needed her help, and Sister Phyllis Ann said, 'You'll always have a job at Mercy with us.' She thought of Mercy as part of her family."

Her emergency department colleagues - joined by police, paramedics, and other first responders - chose a day in 1976 to celebrate Mrs. Kolwitz and her service. They surprised her, Susan Kolwitz said, recalling a photo in a hospital newsletter.

"She was sitting on a chair in a trauma room and had a corsage on. She was just smiling," she said.

Mrs. Kolwitz, a longtime resident of the Regina Coeli neighborhood in West Toledo, had been an officer of the hospital guild and, after the hospital closed in 1996, was active in the Mercy College Auxiliary and volunteered in the gift shop. She served on the Mercy College Foundation board.

"She loved getting together with her retired nurse friends, and they would play cards and play golf," Susan Kolwitz said. "They loved and supported each other for a long time."

Ruth A. Kolwitz was born Aug. 20, 1927, to Gertrude and Karl Obert and grew up in East Toledo, next to her father's trucking business. She was a 1945 graduate of Central Catholic High School, where she played basketball as a member of the Girls Athletic Association.

She was accepted into Mercy Hospital's school of nursing through the Army Nurse Corps. World War II ended, and she continued her nursing education at Mercy as a civilian.

Mrs. Kolwitz continued her education years later at the University of Toledo. She received a bachelor of education degree in 1983 in public affairs and community services.

She and her sister Jeanne McMahon Miller, who was a pharmacist, later pursued graduate studies at UT.

Mrs. Kolwitz was formerly married to the late James Kolwitz.

Surviving are her daughters, Kathleen Lewis, Susan Kolwitz, Ann Kolwitz, Barbara Hammons, and Mary Jo Clark; eight grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.

A funeral Mass will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Joseph Church, Maumee, where visitation will begin after 9 a.m. for those willing to wear masks and follow social distancing. The funeral may be viewed remotely - and then for 90 days - via

Arrangements are by Urbanski Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the Ruth Obert Kolwitz Scholarship at Mercy College of Ohio, a fund to aid nursing students.

This is a news story by Mark Zaborney. Contact him at or 419-724-6182.
Published in The Blade on Nov. 24, 2020.
Memorial Gathering
09:00 - 10:00 AM
St. Joseph's Catholic Church
Funeral Mass
10:00 AM
St. Joseph's Catholic Church
Memories & Condolences
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3 entries
November 29, 2020
I worked at Mercy Hospital with Mrs. Kolwitz. Remembered what a nice compassionate woman she was. Ran a tight ship and very well respected. RIP.
Patricia Viertlbeck
Mercy RN grad
Pat Viertlbeck
November 28, 2020
Ruth was the beloved matriarch of the Obert Kolwitz family. Her dedication to her family and her nursing career were an inspiration to me.
Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are a loving testament to a long life well lived. All of the Evans and Foss families join me in sending our sympathies. We are grateful to have known Ruth.
Betsy Evans
November 24, 2020
Wishing you all peace and comfort during this time. The loss of a loved one is never easy but know we are thinking of you all and are remembering your mom and all the good times we had at family gatherings. With sympathy and prayers Laurie and Bill Holmes
PS very nice service ❤
Laurie Holmes
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