RIP Ruth

Legendary Dallas philanthropist Ruth Altshuler dies at 93

Legendary Dallas philanthropist Ruth Altshuler dies at 93

Ruth Altshuler, Ken Altshuler, DHS Awards
Ruth Altshuler with her husband, Dr. Ken Altshuler, in 2015. Photo by Kristina Bowman

Legendary Dallas philanthropist Ruth Altshuler died on December 8 at UT Southwestern Medical Center, due to complications from breaking her hip in October; she was 93.

Altshuler was raised in Dallas, the only daughter of Ruth and Carr P. Collins Sr. She was the first female chairman of SMU's board of trustees, the first woman to chair the United Way annual campaign, and the first female to serve as board chair of the local Salvation Army.

Southern Methodist University, from which she graduated in 1948, released a statement calling her a "one-of-a-kind dynamo."

"Dallas and SMU have lost a leadership giant," the statement said. "Our hearts are heavy, but our spirits are brightened by the memory of Ruth. She was a one-of-a-kind dynamo, who got things done for the betterment of all. She forever improved Dallas and the University she so dearly loved."

The university hailed her intelligence, decisiveness, legendary fundraising skills, and sense of humor. "Education, health, and services for some of the most downtrodden members of society were areas that attracted her support, but her generosity touched nearly every Dallas civic organization," said the statement. "Her influence, however, went far beyond Dallas. Altshuler was recognized nationally and internationally as a dedicated civic leader and philanthropist."

Altshuler served on the boards of several organizations, raising money for groups such as United Way, Salvation Army, and Goodwill. She received countless awards for her generosity, such as the 2016 VolunteeerNow Lifetime Achievement Award which honored her for her commitment to service in Dallas.

A statement from the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas said that "we at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas are heartbroken about the loss of our beloved friend and generous community leader.  Ruth Altshuler's legacy and impact will live on forever.  She’s touched countless hearts and lives, and will be greatly missed."

Former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush issued a statement, saying, "We are heartbroken by the loss of our dear friend, Ruth Altshuler. Dallas has lost an outstanding civic leader in Ruth. Ruth taught us the lessons of philanthropy, service, and friendship. She was charming, humble, talented, generous, and funny. We loved being with her, and we will miss her."

Her survivors include her husband, Dr. Ken Altshuler, two daughters, and a son.

A service will be held on December 14 at 2 pm at Highland Park United Methodist Church, followed by a reception in the Margaret Mack Ballroom at the Umphrey Lee Center at SMU. Her family requests that, instead of flowers, donations be made in her honor to the Salvation Army.