(1917 - 2012)
Ruth Gordon Shapiro was an American Jewish philanthropist.
Born Ruth Gordon in 1917 in Chelsea, Massachusetts to George and Dorothy Gordon, Shapiro graduated from Wellesley College
in 1937 with a degree in music. She went on to teach piano to underprivileged
children at Bard College’s Longy School of Music in Cambridge.
In 1930, Ruth met Carl Shapiro, 99, whom she would
later marry, on Nantasket Beach in Hull. The two were married for 73
years and raised three daughters named Rhonda, Ellen, and Linda.
The Shapiros manufactured women’s clothing in
a factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts,
and felt strongly that sharing the wealth they accumulated was the right
thing to do, so they started the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Foundation in
“My sisters and I were blessed to be raised by
a father and mother whose values taught us the importance of doing all
you can to try and make a difference,” Shapiro’s daughter
Rhonda Zinner said.
Multiple stapes of the Boston
Jewish community are named after the Shapiros. The Shapiro Ambulatory
Care Center at Boston Medical Center in the South End and the Shapiro
Cardiovascular Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospitals, to name
a few. In 2000, the philanthropic couple donated $22 million to Brandeis
University – the largest gift in the school’s history
– for a new campus center in their name.
Friends and colleagues remember Shapiro as a kind,
elegant, and humble woman. “Ruth would call and she would remember
your husband’s name and your children’s names … She
really had this sincere, genuine fondness for people at all levels of
an institution … she was always good to everyone,” Nancy
K. Winship, Brandeis’ senior vice president for institutional
Shapiro is survived by her husband, brother, three
daughters, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
Sources: J.M. Lawrence, “Ruth Shapiro, noted philanthropist, dies
at 95,” Boston
Globe, October 16, 2012. Photo © Boston