Ruth Bella Lurie, born July 10, 1940, died on December 8, 2019 (Boulder, Colorado) at age 79.
Ever persistent and curious, Ruth Bella Lurie enjoyed intellectual pursuits, activism, family and friends. A long-time resident of Denver and Boulder, she was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on July 10, 1940 to Jacob and Elsa Lurie.
Ruth, known also as Ruthie, attended high school in Plainfield, New Jersey and entered Antioch College in 1958. While in college, she worked as an intern for the U.S. Committee for UNICEF in New York City.
At Antioch, she met John Kailin Link ’59 and they married in 1959. Ruth joined John in Pasadena, California, where he was completing a PhD program in physics at Caltech. In 1963, Ruth entered the University of California at Berkeley and majored in Slavic languages and literature, focusing on Russian, the language of her immigrant paternal grandparents.
As she was growing up, Ruth developed an appreciation for Russian history and literature, being introduced to the works of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Pushkin. In 1965, Ruth graduated with high honors and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Arriving in Berkeley at the height of the antiwar movement, Ruth participated actively in Vietnam War protests. The documentary, “Berkeley in the Sixties,” shows Ruth in a brief scene with other students voting to participate in a sit-in to block trains from carrying soldiers being deployed to Vietnam.
During one protest, she recalled seeing police pull out their batons. Ruth only decided to turn around because she was carrying on her back her second daughter, who was just an infant at the time. The civil rights movement of the 1960s era also helped form Ruth’s life-long concern for social justice.
In 1966, Ruth and her family, which included daughters Lisa and Andrea, moved to Boulder, Colorado. John had received a research fellowship in physics at JILA at the University of Colorado Boulder. Their third child, David, was soon born in Boulder.
During these early years in Boulder, Ruth learned to rock climb. Late into her life, Ruth would speak with nostalgia and pride about her climbing adventures, which included ascending the Flatirons. By 1969, Ruth’s marriage had ended and she began working as a newspaper reporter for the Longmont Times-Call to support her young family. While covering local court cases, Ruth met the late Boulder District Judge John Barnard and he encouraged her to pursue law school.
Ruth entered the University of Colorado Law School in 1971 and graduated in 1974 with a class of only 15 percent women. Her first job after law school was as a clerk for the late Colorado Supreme Court Justice Edward Day. Judge Day shared with Ruth that she stood out from the application pool because of her excellent writing skills. She was later elected to the Colorado Personnel Board. During her career, Ruth shattered several glass ceilings, holding corporate law jobs and positions that no other women had held before. For both Blue Cross Blue Shield and Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance, she served in vice president and general counsel positions. With Great-West Life, she additionally focused on government affairs, which involved many trips to Washington DC.
In 1988, she married Arlen Ambrose, a native Coloradoan and Denver attorney in private law practice. In July 1992, Ruth was one of 31 women designated qualified to lead local corporations by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. To encourage female leadership among corporations, the Association compiled and mailed a booklet to 25 Colorado companies that included Ruth’s biography and resume.
By the early 2000s, Ruth was able to retire and focus more time on family, friends, and her many interests. Throughout her life, Ruth loved traveling to discover new cultures, visiting far-flung places from Russia to Vietnam to Argentina. In 1982, she visited China with the Colorado Bar Association and told the story of getting lost in a sea of blue uniforms in the Old City of Beijing. After her retirement, Ruth was most proud of her trip on a Russian icebreaker vessel to Antarctica where she became enchanted with the wildlife, especially the penguins and the whales. Ruth visited Israel several times to meet dozens of cousins she had discovered through her grandfather Michael Lurie’s family tree.
She often told stories of her beloved grandfather Michael, who had been imprisoned in the Fortress of Peter and Paul and then exiled to Siberia by the csarist regime because of his involvement in early Russian revolutionary movements. Ruth’s father would then be born in Irkutsk in Siberia. She was proud of her family history and wanted to pass along these stories to her family. During her travels, Ruth was eager to strike conversations with strangers to learn their perspectives.
When traveling overseas, she would ask taxi drivers or the people sitting next to her in restaurants what their views of the United States were, especially during election years. Ruth’s friends and family members fondly reminisce their favorite travel stories with her. Once in Paris, she was happy to use her rusty French to chat with a dignified and reserved Parisian woman sitting at a cafe with her miniature poodle.
During a tour of the American South, Ruth came up with the idea that the family would try key lime pie at every restaurant to determine which one was the best. When visiting Manhattan years ago, she decided to ride a horse-drawn carriage through Central Park. After asking the coachman to take her to her cousin’s apartment on the Upper East Side, Ruth arrived with luggage and all, bubbling with laughter. When she took her two younger children to Manhattan for the first time, Ruth made sure they stayed at the Plaza Hotel in a room looking over Central Park, just as the character Eloise had in the children’s book.
A life-long learner and admirer of beauty, Ruth loved to read, watch artsy films and visit museums. With Arlen and friends, she would frequent the theater, holding season tickets at the Germinal Stage and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. During her last years, Ruth enjoyed seeing Joan Baez on her final tour and the musical “Beautiful” about Carole King. After realizing she had not yet read the Hebrew Bible, Ruth committed to reading it with a friend, finally finishing after four years. In addition, Ruth took part in mother-daughter-friend book groups, enthusiastically participating in the lively discussions. During her retirement, Ruth resumed taking piano lessons, like she had done in her childhood, and refreshed the French that she had studied in her youth. In Boulder in the 1970s, Ruth first discovered her passion for ceramics.
After retiring, she relished her time with her ceramics “family” at the Denver Jewish Community Center studio. Her family and friends still cherish her colorful and intricately painted ceramic pieces, including a life-sized emperor penguin.
A journalist and activist at heart, Ruth was always asking questions to challenge, understand and improve the world around her. Ruth supported causes to promote tolerance and the common good, foster justice of all kinds, including for immigrants, and to protect the environment. In the 1980s, she volunteered to help Jewish immigrant families from the Soviet Union adapt to life in Denver.
A staunch believer in voting rights, she volunteered for the 2008 Obama campaign and became known as the grandma who brought comfort meals and made calls. Ruth and Arlen were also founding members of the Abrahamic Initiative interfaith program, which regularly brought together Christian, Islamic and Jewish friends to discuss contemporary issues from differing viewpoints. In addition, she served on the board for B’nai Havurah. In recent years, Ruth fervently supported the anti-fracking movement in Colorado.
Ruth was a fiercely loyal friend, mother and grandmother. She nurtured friendships from each phase of her life, from high school, Antioch, law school and beyond. A keen listener, Ruth wanted to know about the details of her friends’ lives and was not shy to let her opinions be known. She thrived on their dynamic conversations about everything from religion to politics, often focusing on issues of justice and speaking truth to power. She was especially devoted and generous when friends and family members were going through difficult times, even opening up her home for those to stay.
With her independence and perseverance, Ruth inspired and encouraged those of her friends who had also been single mothers. Like her mother, the exuberant Grandma Elsa, Ruth was not shy to make new friends and believed that laughter was the best medicine. Most of all, Ruth adored her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, cherishing being an integral part of their lives.
Known as the hip Nana Ruth or Nanaru wearing tie dye, sunglasses and Red Sox baseball cap, she took her grandchildren on adventures, including to the Galapagos Islands and her beloved Paris. Nostalgic for the East Coast beaches of her childhood, Ruth loved visiting the ocean with her family. Her grandchildren have fond memories of her volunteering at their schools, helping with room redecorating projects, attending sports games and recitals for music and dance, and cooking, including making latkes and applesauce. She would do many creative crafts with her grandchildren, including making ceramic handprints and mini bowls.
An avid sewer, she made doll clothes and quilts for her grandchildren, as well as knitted and crocheted with them. Visits with Nana Ruth were not complete without a trip to the local toy or bookstore. Ruth believed in nurturing the educational paths of her family, a value that her parents and grandparents was passed down to her. Sharing her love of culture, Ruth would play the music of “Man of La Mancha” and “Fiddler on the Roof” for her children as they grew up and frequently looked for opportunities to enjoy the arts with her family.
Most importantly, she passed along to her family the value of supporting and taking care of one another Ruth’s family would like to thank the support staff and her many friends at Brookdale Parkplace, where she spent the last three years. Despite the many challenges she faced with a serious heart condition, Ruth enjoyed her time there, attending lectures, playing bridge, and chatting with friends. She spoke with great excitement about her last outing in August 2019 to see a Red Sox versus the Rockies game at Coors Field.
Ruth’s family extends a heartfelt thank you to her many dear friends who faithfully stood by her throughout the years and became a part of the family. With her fiery personality and generous heart, Ruth will be dearly missed. As in the lyrics written by her favorite singer-songwriter, Bob Dylan, Ruth will be remembered as “Forever Young.” The family greatly appreciates the sharing of remembrances on this web page. To contact her family, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Ruth is survived by her husband, Arlen Ambrose; her children: Lisa (Lyle) Jones, Andrea (Michael) Banks and David Link; daughter-in-law Kimberly Link, step-son Dave (Roxane) Ambrose and step-daughter Jody Ambrose; her grandchildren: Nathan (Alyssa) Jones, Caitlin (Andy) Spalding, Hannah Jones, Andrew and Emily Link, Eliana and Sarah Banks, and Madeline Ambrose; her great-grandchildren: Elijah, Elsa and Joel Jones and Daniel and Evelyn Spalding; nephews Michael Lurie (and his children Kathryn, Dylan and Mitch) and Kenneth Lurie; brothers-in-law Tom and Paul Link; and many cousins predominately on the East Coast and in Israel She is preceded in death by her first husband, John Link, her parents, Jacob or Jack and Elsa (Wolfeld) Lurie, and her brother and sister-in-law, Robert and Pauline Lurie. Ruth adored her late dog Charlie, a rich chocolate-brown standard poodle and Barney, her second chocolate-brown standard poodle.
Donations in Ruth’s memory may be made to The Nature Conservancy of Colorado or a charity of your choice.