STEWART--Ruth Ann. Ruth Ann Stewart, beloved wife of thirty years of historian David Levering Lewis, died of ovarian cancer on Friday morning, May 30. After three and half heroic years of struggle largely shielded from public awareness, Ruth chose to enter palliative/hospice care at our home rather than to undergo yet another chemotherapy cycle. She suffered minimal pain. She remained vitally engaged, responding to many written messages, receiving family, friends, professional colleagues, and sharing firm views about the state of our world and how to make it better, until her spirit waned in the last few days. A month earlier, three generations of Stewart family members shared her 72nd birthday. On Mother's Day, daughter Allegra and two generations of Lewises took her on a carriage ride through Central Park. She planned to attend both Wheaton College's commencement in Massachusetts, of which she was alumna and former trustee, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's annual Sakura Matsuri festival, whose devoted trustee she was also. From modest origins in Chicago's Hyde Park, where parents Elmer and Ann Stewart nurtured discipline and ambition, Ruth Ann (as she was invariably called by everyone except her husband) traveled remarkable distances geographically and professionally on the wings of high adventure, intelligence, administrative genius, and a personality that stunned her husband forever. From Chicago to her bachelors degree at Wheaton College, to an M.S. from Columbia University's school of library science, to associate director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, to assistant director of publications of the New York Public Library during the transformative days of Vartan Gregorian, to Washington as Assistant Librarian of Congress for National Programs until Librarian Daniel Boorstin's retirement, after which she served as senior policy analyst in arts, humanities and social legislation at the Congressional Research Service. Recognized as a pioneer in the field of public arts policy, Rutgers University invited her to serve as clinical professor in its new Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. During a decade of service as clinical professor of Public Policy at NYU's Robert F. Wagner's School of Public Service, she co-edited Understanding the Creative Sector in the United States (Rutgers 2008), now a benchmark in the field. Her life of Booker T. Washington's daughter, Portia (Doubleday 1977), contributed meaningfully to feminist biography. Ruth served as board member of the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is survived by husband David, daughter Allegra Stewart, brother Donald and sister-in-law Isabel Stewart of Chicago, nephews Jay of Washington and Carter Stewart of Columbus, Ohio, stepsons Eric of Berwyn, PA, and Jason Lewis of San Diego, CA, stepdaughter Allison Lewis of Washington and granddaughters Marissa and Natalie Wilson, and Stewart great nieces and nephews Nicole, Corinne, Jonathan, and Ulyses. Paternal aunt Yolande Bustos resides in California. Donations may be made in her name to Wheaton College and Brooklyn Botanic Garden. A bronze memorial plaque identifies Ruth's scarlet oak in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The place and date of her memorial service will be announced soon.
Published by New York Times on Jun. 8, 2014.