Ruth Rodale Spira
1928 - 2019
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Coopersburg resident Ruth Rodale Spira, Co-Founder and Co-Chairwoman of Lutron Electronics, died August 31st in Allentown, Pennsylvania, at the age of 90. Ruth was pre-deceased by her husband of 60 years, Lutron Chairman,

Co-Founder, and Director of Research, Joel Spira, in 2015. Ruth was born on December 9th, 1928, to J.I. and Anna (Andrews) Rodale. She received a bachelor's degree in botany from Wellesley College and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Muhlenberg College. Following her graduation, Ruth joined Rodale Press which was founded by her parents. In time, she became Editor of Organic Gardening and Farming and saved up her money for a trip of a lifetime. An adventurous person even at age 26, Ruth traveled to Paris in the 1950s as a single woman (which was almost unheard of at the time). During her trip to Paris, she became fluent in French and developed a love of French and Asian food, as Paris was (even back then) a very international city. Upon her return she settled in New York and became a researcher for an encyclopedia company. Soon after her move to New York, she met her husband, Joel. They enjoyed their life in New York and lived on Riverside Drive in Upper Manhattan. Ruth continued her love of Chinese and European food and would have many cooking dinner parties for their friends. This developed over many years into a passion for cooking and many wonderful meals enjoyed by family and friends. Joel and Ruth started Lutron in the spare bedroom of their Upper West Side Manhattan apartment. Together, she and Joel grew Lutron from a local Coopersburg-based entrepreneurial business that sold two products, to the global leader in lighting and shading controls. In the early days, Ruth was hands on in the quality control area making sure all products were properly tested. As a leader in more and more areas of the company, she always advocated for the highest quality in both product and communications. Ruth was the cornerstone of the company. She created and implemented Lutron's familial culture of inclusiveness and community, welcoming everyone through the door as family. Today, nearly 60 years later, this warm culture is the hallmark of Lutron. Ruth's impact on the company could be felt worldwide. She established Lutron's Marketing Communications Department in 1982 and went on to develop much of Lutron's marketing materials used throughout the world. Ruth took great pride in mentoring so many people around the world and welcoming them into the Lutron family. She also took great pride in, and was very active in, giving back to our local community. For decades, she was active with numerous organizations, including the Allentown Art Museum, the Allentown Arts Commission, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, and the Lehigh Valley Wellesley College Group. Ruth previously served as a trustee for Cedar Crest College and as a board member for the DeSales University Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. She was an active member of Lutron's Advisory Council, a council of distinguished advisors who provided counsel and advice on Lutron's future. In addition to her work with Lutron, Ruth co-founded Subarashii Kudamono (Japanese translation: Wonderful Fruit), a Lehigh Valley-based grower and producer of Asian pears. Subarashii Kudamono pears and pear products are sold nationally to restaurants, corporate programs, and online. Ruth loved her family and upheld numerous traditions including Wednesday movie night with Joel. With a passion for international food and travel, Ruth was a woman ahead of her times and introduced Joel to new cultures and new ideas. She had a passion for cooking and published Naturally Chinese: Healthful Cooking for China in 1977 to offer a healthy approach to preparing Chinese food. Ruth will be remembered as a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, mentor, and friend. She is survived by daughter and son-in-law Susan and Pekka Hakkarainen, daughter and son-in-law Lily Spira Housler and Ryan Housler, daughter Juno Spira, grandson Ari Hakkarainen and his wife, Nicole, grandsons Max Hakkarainen and Bailey Malanczuk, sister Nina Houghton, sister-in-law Miriam Poser, and many nieces and nephews. She is pre-deceased by her parents and brother Robert Rodale.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Parkinson Disease Association, 131 Parkinson Avenue, Staten Island, NY, 10305 or www.apdaparkinson.org. Services will be private. Arrangements entrusted to Bachman, Kulik & Reinsmith Funeral Home, Allentown.

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Published in Morning Call on Sep. 4, 2019.
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Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Bachman, Kulik & Reinsmith Funeral Homes, P.C. - Allentown
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11 entries
May 6, 2020
My boss, a wonderful person. She would call me personally to thank me and to acknowledge my good work on special occasions.
Alberto Guzman
Coworker
September 8, 2019
I was privileged to know the Spiras from my work at Purdue University where Joel served on the board and then at Lehigh University. I remember fondly good times at their Coopersburg home and still use Ruth's cookbook which she gave to me. The passing of a wonderful era. Sincerest condolences to Susan and the family.
Christine Smith
September 4, 2019
I met Mrs. Spira when I worked at Merchants Bank in Coopersburg. She was on of my favorite customers. We had many interesting conversations over the years. A true lady. Godspeed.
Joan Walko
September 4, 2019
To the Spira Family,

I am so sorry to read about your mother's passing. She was the Matriarch of Lutron.
I have such fond memories of your mother and father. I will always love the way he called her Ruthie. I can remember all the clambakes and Christmas parties, she was always by his side. I remember one time in the 70's they went to Paris and she brought the three line leaders; me, Terri Plusar and Barb Queen perfume back. I was thrilled by her thoughtfulness. I remember one of the last big events when Mr. Spira was inducted into the Smithsonian and we were going through the congratulations line, I saidto them both that it had been one hell of a ride and that I wouldn't missed it for the world. She was one of the classist ladies I had ever met. She will be missed

To the Lurton Family,

I know most of your don't know Mrs. Spira and for that I feel sorry for you. There was a picture hanging in BR2 of Mr. & Mrs. Spira at a clambake and everytime I walked passed I would touch her just to let her know I was thinking about her. She will always be Mrs. Lutron.
Gladys Kahler
September 4, 2019
To the Spira Family,

I am so spry to hear about your mother's passing. She was the Matriarch of the Lutron Family. I have fond memories of all the clambakes and Christmas parties. She was always by your father's side. I remember one time after a trip to Paris, Mrs. Spira surprised the three line leaders of the production plant; myself, Terri Plusar and Barb Queen with perfume. I was so thrilled that she would think of us. One of the last big galas was when Mr. Spira was inducted into the Smithsonian in Washington DC. I remember telling both your mom and dad that it had been one hell of a ride and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

To the Lutron Family,

I realize most of you have never met Mrs. Spira and for that I feel sorry for you, she was a wonderful, thoughtful person and I will miss her. There was a picture of both Mr. & Mrs. Spira that hung in BR2, and every time I passed it I would touch her to let her know I was thinking about her.
Gladys Kahler
September 4, 2019
To the grieving Spira Family,
I am so sorry to read about your mother's passing. She was the matriarch of Lutron.I csn remember all the clambakes and Christmas parties I attended and she was aslways by your father's side. I remember one of their trips to Paris she brought us three line leaders myself, Terri Plusar and Barb Queen perfume back as gifts. I felt so thrilled that she thought of us. One of the last big events was Mr. Spira's induction into the Smithsonian, going through the welcoming line I told them, that it had been one hell of a ride and thst I wouldn't has missed it for the world. Your mother will be missed by all who met her.

To the Lutron family,
Most of you have never met Mrs. Spira and for that I fell sorry for you, she was such an inspiration, such a wonderful person. I will always remember the picture of the two of them that hung in the hallway in BR2, every time I walked passed it I would touch her to let her know I was thinking about her.
Gladys Kahler
September 4, 2019
Ruth and I became friends when we were both on the Cedar Crest College Board of Trustees. She was always so insightful on the myriad of issues the board addressed but presented her ideas with grace and understanding. She advised me on various issues I faced as board chair. Loved her delightful personality and was always impressed with her knowledge and background. What a woman!

My regards and sympathy to the whole family. You were fortunate to have her.

Sue Hudgins
Sue Hudgins
September 4, 2019
Gladys Kahler
September 4, 2019
Lutron family, sorry to hear about Mrs Spira 's passing She was a wonderful person Chris Horn
Christine Horn
September 4, 2019
What a life! RIP
Sean Duffy
September 3, 2019
Dear Susan and family of Mrs Spira, I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Mrs Spira. I was very fortunate to work with her in the 80s on the clambake. Enjoyed the Ladies holiday party she hosted. Lutron family will miss her.
Karen Knipe
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