Ruth L. Siegel, 85, Was Friendly, Artistic Person

Ruth L. Siegel of Vandrow Lane in West Tisbury died unexpectedly at Hartford Hospital on Saturday, May 17, at the age of 85. Ruth moved to Martha's Vineyard from Brookline with her late husband, Jerry, in 1997.

First and foremost in any summation of who she was must be an acknowledgement of her generosity. Her enthusiasm for family and friends seemed to be limitless. Any time "for as long as you like" was always implicit in her welcome.

Throughout her life, she exhibited a fine sense of aesthetics, although she had received no early formal training in the arts. Each house she lived in, each garden she cultivated, each room she furnished revealed her special gift. In midlife she became a potter. With customary zeal she worked long days and nights at Radcliffe Pottery in Cambridge and at Florida Atlantic University. Not only was she devoted to her craft, she loved the community of a working clay studio. Over many years she produced a body of work that gave her, her family and her friends much pleasure. During the last decade of her life she worked with her daughter, Ellen, in all phases of their Edgartown gallery, Once in a Blue Moon.

But her concerns did not revolve solely around the arts. She was also passionately committed to issues of social justice - active in the Civil Rights Movement from the early 1960s, an advocate of women's rights and an outspoken peace activist. With her husband, she repeatedly demonstrated her unusual spirit - trekking to Machu Pichu and through the Amazon, rafting the Colorado in her mid-60s, participating in archeological digs in Israel. She was a bold and beautiful lady.

She is survived by her elder daughter, Temmy Acton, and Temmy's husband, John, and by her younger daughter, Ellen Wolfe, and Ellen's husband, Edward Zlotkowski. She gave greatly of herself to her grandchildren, Matthew, Jon and Michael Naiman and Gavriel Wolfe, and to her great-grandaughter, Misha Naiman. She will be greatly missed.

A memorial celebration will be held later this summer at a date to be announced.