Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Ruth Sowter Robeson

Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of Ruth Sowter Robeson

Ruth “Ruthie” Sowter Robeson
February 17, 1921 – October 5, 2015

Ruth Robeson, at age 94, died Monday morning, Oct. 5, 2015, surrounded by her loving family. Ruth was born to John E. and Clara W. Sowter on Feb. 17, 1921, in Hackensack, N.J. She was the first of three children. 

Their childhood was spent in River Edge, N.J., before the family moved to Ridgewood, N.J., in 1923. Ruth graduated from Ridgewood High School in 1938 and from New Jersey College for Women (now Douglas College) in 1942. Her first job was in the Morristown (N.J.) Public Library. 

In 1944 she began work as a teacher, librarian and dormitory supervisor at Northfield School for Girls in East Northfield, Mass. 

In 1952 she began work in the American Collegiate Institute in Izmir, Turkey, a junior-senior high school for Turkish girls under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. There she worked in the library, taught English, math and art for a three-year term. 

In the summer of 1954, at a meeting in Istanbul, she became acquainted with Wallace “Wally” Robeson, a teacher at the Tarsus American School for Boys, also under the American Board. The friendship flourished by letter and two short visits, and the couple were married in Izmir on June 13, 1955. 

The summer of 1956, Ruth and Wally returned to the U.S. where Wally began the four-year course at Oberlin Graduate School of Theology, which led to his ordination and their commissioning as career missionaries of the American Board, now Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ. 

A semester at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, gave added time for study and Ruth graduated with high distinction from the English Language Institute. In August of 1960, they happily returned to Turkey where their work continued in Izmir, Talas and Tarsus until their retirement in 1996. Since then they have lived at Fairhaven Retirement Community in Whitewater. 

Ruth was a teacher, homemaker, mother to the couple’s daughter, grandmother of three granddaughters, and beloved teacher of many, many Turkish boys and girls. She also enjoyed the many guests who came to their home, from ambassadors to campus workers, and stranded wayfarers who stayed for weeks. 

Ruth loved teaching beginning English, bicycling, traveling, cooking, handwork and swimming. She could boast of having swum from Europe to Asia twice! (She insisted it was neither a long nor dangerous swim across the Bosphorus.) 

Ruth is survived by her husband, Wally; daughter, Mary Heather (Dogan Satir); three granddaughters, Ayse, Zeynep and Ipek; Ural Celik, who was like a grandson; sister, Mary Gould; and a numerous nieces and nephews, and their children; and many dear friends.

Her brother, John, predeceased her in 2012. 

A memorial service was held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Fairhaven Retirement Community Room. Memorial gifts may be made to FABSIT (Friends of the American Board Schools in Turkey), 14 Beacon Street, Suite 708, Boston, MA 02108 or Fairhaven Foundation, PO Box 441683, Indianapolis, IN 46244.  Condolences may be sent to the family in care of Wallace Robeson, 435 West Starin Road, Apartment 209D, Whitewater, WI 53190.