Ruth Imbesi died peacefully on January 3, 1997, at the home of her daughter Nan and son- in-law Claude Roatta, in Miami, Florida surrounded by love and her grandchildren. Ruth, a member of the 15th Street Monthly meeting of the Religious Society of Friends since 1968, was a Quaker Matriarch and tireless social activist. She marched on Washington in non-violent protest as a Civil Rights activist, a Peace activist and a Women's Rights activist.
From her earliest days as a Friend, Ruth served on Yearly Meeting committees, beginning with the Quaker Project on Community Conflict of P.S.A.P. (Peace and Social Action Program). In 1969 she was an organizer of the 24 hour Quaker silent vigil for peace outside the White House. In the early 1970's Ruth served on the Human Relationships and Sexuality Committee and the Committee on Prisons and Rehabilitation of Offenders. Ruth was one of the founding members of New York Yearly Meeting's Women's Rights Committee which was formed in 1972. Ruth worked as an advocate for all women and children and throughout her life she bore witness to the special concerns of women. She fought for each woman's freedom to control her reproductive functions and supported incarcerated women, especially those with children.
At 15th Street we grateully acknowledge that we provide child care for every function of the Meeting due to Ruth's insistence year after year that child care is necessary to support the spiritual life of parents. Ruth nurtured the seeeds of spiritual entitlement in women and encouraged them to participate fully in the life of both the Monthly Meeting and the Yearly Meeting. She encouraged women individually to take risks, trust themselves and follow heir leadings. If she felt led she would join in, if not, she would say: "I'll cheer you on!"
Ruth was steady, dependable and good in a crisis. She was compassionate and practical and good at conflict resolution. She knew how to translate concerns into Quakerese. She always lent a helping hand. Ruth was a knowledgeable resource, and a source of inner spiritual strength and unconditional love to many in their times of need. Ruth served us all through many tender actions that kept us all connected. She wrote newsletters for many committees, made delicious home made soups, organized communtiy wide Thanksgiving dinners and silk screened "Hug a Friend" and "Quake" T- shirts. Ruth's door was always open to "crashers" who needed a place to stay in New York City. At the Yearly Meeting level she connected us all by serving on the Nominating and Epistle Committees. Ruth served each of us individually every time she greeted us with an enthusiastic "What's new and exciting?" cheerfully directing us to focus on and connect to the positive aspects of our personal experience.
Ruth was very generous with her time as a mentor to younger Friends and for many women Ruth provided a powerful role model. Ruth was strong and kind. She conformed to none of society's gender specific restrictions or gender determined roles but simply followed the inner Light in a distinctly female way. Ruth was a voracious reader and she was always well informed. She was not afraid to take unconventional stands if she was convinced through her leadings that they were true and just. Ruth assumed her freeedom and independence as God-given gifts and respected the freedom of others. Her wisdom was shared in a light hearted, affriming or witty manner, yet she was always direct. She spoke plainly.
Ruth Imbesi's life of commitment and service embodied our Quaker Testimonies of Equality, Simplicity, Harmony and Community and her loving presence will be deeply missed.
CLICK HERE TO SEE A PHOTOGRAPH OF RUTH IMBESI RECEIVING THE LUCRETIA MOTT AWARD
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