Ruth Rubin died peacefully, with her family by her side, on April 7, 2023 at the age of 94. A native of the Bronx, Ruth Michaelson was a graduate of Hunter High School and held a B.S. in Biology from Brooklyn College. She was the first person in her family to attend college. As a high school senior, Ruth received an Honorable Mention in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, the “nation’s oldest and most prestigious” research-based science competition.
Ruth married Harold Rubin in 1950 and together they moved from the Bronx to Albany in search of employment with the State of New York. Until the birth of her oldest daughter, Ruth worked for the New York State Museum as Museum Education Supervisor, and especially loved her work in youth programming.
In 1964, Ruth and Harold bought a brownstone row house in “Brides’ Row” on Chestnut Street in Albany, the birthplace of the late Mayor Erastus Corning 2nd. They soon became active in the Center Square Association, Albany’s oldest neighborhood association, making positive change, helping to foster a connected urban community, and sharing a model for the establishment of neighborhood organizations in Albany and in other U.S. cities.
Ruth loved living on Chestnut Street, where she and Harold resided for over 50 years. Ruth was dedicated to historic preservation and to the well-being of her neighbors and neighborhood. Some of the most successful initiatives she actively supported with Harold, Center Square, and Historic Albany Foundation included the cancellation of the 1968 proposed Mid-Crosstown Arterial Highway, which would have cut through and destroyed Albany’s historic downtown area; the prevention of fast-food chain McDonald’s from opening in the neighborhood; and the rerouting of traffic from the Empire State Plaza to help keep Center Square and Hudson Park as quiet residential communities.
Over the years Ruth served as the chair or member of a dozen committees for Center Square including Recording Secretary, Membership Chair and Block Captain. Ruth was also a Board Member of Historic Albany Foundation, a Founder of the annual House and Garden Tour and was instrumental in having Center Square and Hudson Park added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
In 1993, the New York Times described Ruth and Harold as “the unofficial mayors” and “the heartbeat, soul and conscience” of Center Square…“neighborhood guardians whose mere presence brings a sense of comfort and security to the community.”
Ruth was a long time member of Congregation Beth Emeth and a Life Member of the University Club of Albany, her “home away from home”. She enjoyed attending Friday lunches with friends and family events at the University Club, and traveling with Harold each spring to attend annual National Torch Conventions held in different cities across the United States. Ruth was one of the official chaperones to the Albany Tulip Festival’s Tulip Queen and Court, a long-time member and supporter of the Albany Institute of History and Art, and a supporter for adding the latest STEM technologies to the former Albany Academy for Girls.
On December 11, 2014, the Center Square Association, the City of Albany, and the New York State Assembly honored Ruth and Harold for their lifelong dedication to many Albany institutions, declaring it to be “Harold and Ruth Rubin Day” in the City of Albany. The Historic Albany Foundation also honored Harold and Ruth that night, recognizing their leadership and outstanding contributions to historic preservation.
Above all, Ruth was dedicated to her family. After raising her two daughters, Ruth prioritized being a devoted grandmother to her five grandchildren, attending their school events and sports activities in Boston, Connecticut and Vermont. She also enjoyed cultivating her city garden, participating in neighborhood social events and engaging in helpful conversations from her front stoop.
Ruth leaves behind her daughter Lisa Rubin-Johnson (Glenn) of Brookline, MA, her daughter Nancy Dana Smith (Dan) of Shelburne, VT, her brother Donald of Manhattan, and her five grandchildren: Connor Johnson (Amy) of Walpole, MA, Austin Johnson (Sarah) of Chicago, IL, Zachary Smith of South Burlington, VT, Jessica Smith of Richmond, VA, and Griffin Smith of Shelburne, VT. She is predeceased by her dear parents Helen and Harris Michaelson, and her beloved husband, Harold, with whom she celebrated 70 years of marriage in February 2020.
The family would like to thank the CNAs, nurses, and doctors who took good care of Ruth in her later years, her private aides Nancy Sanders and Samantha Bond; Theresa Labreck, Sandy Mangal, her primary physicians, Dr. Kevin Costello and Dr. R.J. Donahue, and her amazing neighbors on Chestnut Street.
A private burial took place on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 at Albany Rural Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Ruth may be made to:
Center Square Association: https://centersquarealbany.com
Historic Albany Foundation: https://www.historic-albany.org
Albany Institute of History and Art: https://www.albanyinstitute.org/