Cultural Revolutions

Ruth M. Besemer, R.I.P.

Ruth Miller Besemer of Boulder, Colorado, and I exchanged letters for several months before we met.  She sent the first in 1999, when The Rockford Institute held the annual meeting of the John Randolph Club in Georgetown.  The Saturday-evening debate topic was: “Resolved: Conservatives in D.C. haven’t done a damn thing.”  To a check for $250 to support the event, she attached a brief note: “You’re damn right they haven’t!”

On May 5 the quiet, lovely lady who had become known to the staff of The Rockford Institute and to their families as “Aunt Ruth” died.  She was 94 years old.  For the better part of a decade she served on the Institute’s board of directors, and when the history of Chronicles is written, the record will show that her quiet and superabundant generosity kept our lights on and the presses running.

A Long Island native, Ruth, as a young woman, had worked as a bookkeeper and a librarian before landing a job at HarperCollins.  When she joined our board she said to me, “Tell George Garrett that I knew Henry Hoyns.  He didn’t have much of a sense of humor.  He scolded my girlfriends and me for a harmless office prank.”  Ruth never mentioned just how harmless.

Sometime in the 70’s, she and her husband, Arthur, moved to Denver, where he and his brother had...

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