Springfield native, philanthropist and active member of the local Jewish community Ruth K. Webber died Saturday, Aug. 13 at the age of 83.
Webber died peacefully at Baystate Medical Center, surrounded by her family. Her funeral was held Monday, Aug. 15 at Sinai Temple.
Born in Springfield, she was the daughter of the late Sylvia B. Katz and Benjamin H. Katz. She graduated from Classical H.S. and Connecticut College, class of 1949. She was married for 48 years to her husband, the late Ralph G. Webber, former president of Kittredge Equipment Company.
A resident of both Longmeadow and Boca Raton, Fla., Webber, volunteered her time, and generously supported the community organizations she deeply believed in. Among them are the Springfield Library and Museum Association, the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, Ruth’s House at Jewish Geriatric Services, and Sinai Temple. Ruth was active in the Springfield Section, National Council of Jewish Women, and served as chair of the Scholarship Committee for many years. Her generosity to the Springfield JCC included its recent renaming as the Neal Webber Building in memory of her late son Neal. She was also a driver for Meals on Wheels and Rachel’s Table, and served on the boards of many local service organizations. She received the Kipnis-Wilson Lion of Judah award at the General Assembly in New Orleans last year. Always active, Webber was a dedicated runner, who prided herself on completing five Boston Marathons. Honorary Chair of this year’s Maccabi Games in Springfield, Webber was honored at the opening ceremonies on Aug. 14 with a moment of silence.
“Ruth was one of the Center’s biggest cheerleaders. There was no one more excited about bringing the JCC Maccabi Games back to Springfield than Ruth,” said Michael Paynick, executive director of the Springfield JCC. “When the Games are done there will always be the visual memory of the joy on Ruth’s face at the mere thought of being involved in the JCC Maccabi experience. Of course when we now enter the Neal Webber Building of the Springfield Jewish Community Center we will remember the wonderful legacy that Ruth and the entire Webber Family has provided to the JCC and the greater Jewish and general community.”
Meredith Dragon, executive director of the Jewish Federation said that when she and her family moved to Longmeadow from Florida, Ruth was one of the first people in the community to welcome them, inviting them to spend their first Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with the Webber family.
“Ruth Webber was the consummate volunteer who worked hard, took her positions seriously and truly believed in making our world a better place to live,” Dragon said. “Federation was so very fortunate to have Ruth’s vitality and zest for life guiding her work with us. She was engaged in all aspects of our Jewish community and was a long time volunteer for the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts serving in all areas of our work including completing terms on the boards of Federation and the Endowment Foundation. She was a very active volunteer with the Springfield Council of Jewish Women and Rachel’s Table. Ruth also traveled to Israel on Federation missions. Ruth’s commitment was far beyond that of time. She gave her heart and soul to her love of the Jewish people advocating on our behalf to ensure that Jewish needs were met globally. She will be missed be all.”
Webber is survived by her children, Margo and Barry Steinberg of Marion, Jane and Tom Shernow of Woodbridge, Conn., and Wendy H. Webber of Longmeadow; a brother and his wife, David B. and Ruth Katz of Longmeadow; nine grandchildren Julia (Steinberg) and Jonathan Agnew, Benjamin Steinberg, Allison, Jamie, Lauren and Jacob Webber, Hillary Schepps and Noah Shernow; and three sisters-in-law and all the members of the Kittredge-Webber-Broder family.
Memorial contributions may be made to Sinai Temple, 1100 Dickinson St., Springfield, MA 01108, to Ruth’s House at Jewish Geriatric Services, 770 Converse St., Longmeadow, MA 01106, to the Jewish Endowment Foundation Kittredge-Webber Scholarship Fund, 1160 Dickinson St., Springfield, MA 01108, or to the Neal B. Webber Fund, c/o Springfield JCC, 1160 Dickinson St., Springfield, MA 01108.