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Ruth Jean Gurwitz

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Ruth Jean Gurwitz Obituary
February 5, 1929 - June 4, 2015
Ruth Jean Gurwitz, a woman of great beauty and musical ability, passed away on June 4 with her family by her side. She was born in San Antonio on Feb. 5, 1929, and was preceded in death by her parents, Ethel and Saul Scharlack, and a son, Andrew.
RJ, as she was known to her friends, displayed an enormous musical talent at a young age. She began playing the piano by ear at age three, which led to a lifelong commitment to music performance and education.
Ruth Jean was well remembered at Jefferson High School for her piano recitals. She graduated Stephens College, and attended the University of Texas and the Music Academy of the West. She received a degree in piano from Incarnate Word College.
As a young woman, Ruth Jean was a piano teacher and a volunteer for Jewish communal organizations. She also began her decades of support for San Antonio musical organizations including the San Antonio Chamber Music Society, the Tuesday Musical Club, KPAC public radio, and the San Antonio International Piano Competition, of which she was a founder and long-time president.
Ruth Jean's lifelong association with music included her family's founding of Southern Music Company, a San Antonio musical institution, and known worldwide in the music community. She enjoyed hosting and traveling to meet musicians and music industry leaders from across the country and around the world.
Ruth Jean was an accomplished gardener, and delighted in sharing exotic plants with friends and visitors. She was also a gifted writer and strict grammarian, traits that she passed on to her children.
Ruth Jean was an extraordinary performer, capable of playing any work after hearing it just once, or even having someone hum a few bars. She was a devotee of classical music but also relished improvisational jazz, playing with accomplished musicians. And she took great pleasure in performing duets with her grandchildren.
Despite personal tragedy and medical challenges, including cancer, Ruth Jean maintained her commitments to the musical community through the entirety of her life. She is survived by her husband of 65 years, Arthur, son Jonathan, daughter in law Rachel, grandchildren Allie and Jordan, sister Elaine Davis, niece Joelle Miller, and many relatives and friends from near and far who enriched her life, and whose lives she in turn enriched.

The family would like to extend its thanks to her dedicated caregivers, Leti Bonilla and Sheryl Griffith, as well as her long-time companion and helper Lupe Hernandez.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the San Antonio International Piano Competition or the Andrew Gurwitz Memorial Endowment at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Funeral Services are scheduled for Sunday, June 7, at 10:30 am, at Temple Beth-El, with interment immediately following at Beth-El Memorial Park (Austin Highway).


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Published in Express-News on June 6, 2015
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