June 24, 1931 - February 15, 2021
Dr. Ruth Chalmers Grant Knier was born in Leominster, Massachusetts on June 24, 1931 to Ruth and Harold Chalmers. In 1950, she headed to California to marry the boy next door, her first husband James Grant. While they were raising two daughters, Lynne and Brooke Grant, she attended San Francisco State and obtained her BA and MA. She and her second husband, Earl Knier moved to El Granada in the early 1960's and they had a daughter, Elizabeth Knier.
While looking after four teenagers (Lynne, Brooke, James Knier, and Susan Hubbard), and their toddler daughter Elizabeth, she earned a PhD from Berkeley. She went on to participate in the California Alliance for Arts Education Committee under Governor Brown and was President of the California Humanities Association. She received the Charles D. Perlee Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Humanities and Fine Arts Education in 1982, and also became the first female Chair of the Humanities Department at San Francisco State University, where she taught from 1960 to 2003. It was there that she met Dr. Wayne Peterson, who became her life partner. With Wayne she travelled, read, dined, and had wonderful adventures.
Ruth was revered by her students at SFSU and the greatest love of her life was teaching and mentoring. A former student who lives in El Granada recently remembered her as a beloved advisor who had a profound effect on his life and career. This was a common sentiment expressed over the years by many of her former students.
Known as Friend Ruth or Nona to her grandchildren, she spent much of her later years spoiling and caring for them. She was passionate about literature, poetry, philosophy, music, and education. She loved to cook holiday meals, sing, debate, and discuss. She loved fall in New England and storms on the sea in El Granada. This five foot two intellectual never backed down and never gave up.
Our world has lost a strong, intelligent, generous and complicated woman. A rare diamond. She loved, travelled, read, taught, and demanded everything life could give her. She was admired. She lived. She really lived.
She is survived by Dr. Wayne Peterson, her daughters Lynne, Brooke, and Elizabeth, her grandchildren Willow and Arielle Knier and Olivia and Carson Smith.
Services at a later date. Donations may be made to AAUW or San Francisco State University.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Mar. 17 to Mar. 21, 2021.