April 5, 1925 ~ August 14, 2020
Born in: Denver, Colorado
Resided in: Fremont, California
Ruth “Ruthy” Payne Shalin was born April 5, 1925, in Denver, Colorado, to parents Fanny and Owsai “Oscar” Payne. The baby of the family, she grew up with her older brothers George and Sam, and cousins Sam Blanc and George
Blanc. She often laughed about the story where her mom had to go to the school to explain why young Ruth told her teacher she had two brothers: “Sam and George and Sam and George.” As soon as she was old enough, she helped out at the family-owned Franklin Hardware store, following in the footsteps of her brothers and cousins. A determined and fearless youngster, she learned to drive at age 12, at her mother’s insistence.
Ruth loved music, reading, art, writing, and contributing to her community. She was an accomplished pianist with a beautiful singing voice and wrote descriptive “advertisements” for new products featured in the hardware store. After graduating from high school, she continued her academic and music studies in college.
In 1943, Ruth married Jerome “Jerry” Leitner, and migrated to San Diego, California, where they both worked in the aircraft industry to support the war effort, during World War II. Ruth was part of the secretarial pool and Jerry was a draftsman. After the War, she and Jerry relocated to San Francisco, where she worked at the Irwin Memorial Blood bank, while Jerry attended dental school. She and Jerry became regular guests and close “friends-like-family” of the Gold, Wurst, and Kahn families. Ruth called the Bay Area her “second home” and fell in love with Golden Gate Park, the hills, the Bay, and the ocean.
In 1950, Ruth and Jerry moved to Marin County, and their family grew to include three children: a son and two daughters. Ruth took a break from her job, and loved spending time with her children, teaching them how to ride bikes and roller skate, planning special birthday parties, and sewing clothes and costumes for them. In 1959, she and Jerry divorced.
In 1960, she married Maurice “Maurie” Shalin, and Ruth took Maurie’s daughter under her wing as one of her own children. She resumed work at the Irwin Memorial BloodBank, as an executive secretary, and worked many years until she retired. She made herself indispensable with her organizational, shorthand dictation, and speech writing skills and creative and collaborative working style. For one memorable project, she developed descriptive narrative statements and provided input on backdrops, props, and costuming for a series of tableaux representing the history of blood banking presented as the American Association of Blood Banking National Conference in San Francisco. Ruth often brought her work home with her, where her children assisted with various duties including organizing documents by alphabetical and numerical order, thereby “catching” her spirit of going well beyond the call of duty and “outside the box thinking”.
Ruth had boundless energy and creativity, and when she wasn’t working, she was a dedicated volunteer and mentor, serving as a Girl Scout Leader and Rainbow Girl Mother, and sharing her organizing, design, sewing, musical, and culinary talents with her children and mentees. She was a consummate cook with “secret” recipes she revealed only to close family members, and hosted numerous parties for friends, family, and business associates. She was a “superwoman” years before the term was popularized!
A doting grandma of two grandsons and two granddaughters, Ruth relished creating indoor and outside play spaces, age-appropriate libraries, and yummy snacks and meals for her visiting grandchildren. She also sewed Cabbage Patch Kids doll clothes, baked the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies on the planet, and read and played the piano with the little ones, who imitated her by reading or making “reading” sounds and banging on the piano keys.
In the early days of her “retirement”, Ruth assisted Maurie in developing a logo and sewing aprons for their new business enterprise, Peter Piper Donuts. She created ads for the business and provided “samples” of the baked goods to lucky family members and friends.
While the donut shop was getting up to speed, Ruth decided to work for a temping agency. She was so successful as a “temp”, that everyone she worked for loved her so much they wanted to hire her permanently. She loved to share a story about the time she was assigned as a “temp” to work at the front desk in a busy and noisy office lobby. When she asked her supervisor if she could be moved to a quieter location to answer phones and complete her work, she was taken to the spacious office of the vacationing Director. Always in a suit and heels, she was working away, sitting at the Director’s desk, as a group of visiting professionals were ushered into the office, on a tour of the organization. They didn’t want to interrupt her work, and as they were leaving the office, she heard one visitor comment that it was “so forward-thinking to have a female Director.” Ruth had to stifle her giggle, as they closed the door.
She also loved working for Sunset Designs in San Ramon, and during her tenure there, she used her employee discount to gift family members with beautiful Sunset Designs needlework, embroidery, and crewel work kits. As a result of these amazing gifts, many family members received completed pillows, wall hangings, and other handmade and decorative Sunset Designs items for birthdays and holidays. While living in the San Diego area, fully retired, she and Maurie became “adopted” parents and grandparents to their next-door neighbors and their kids, and during the numerous yard sales, Ruth provided her famous cookies and other snacks to interested browsers and buyers. She loved animals from a distance she and Maurie were avid supporters of the San Diego Zoological Society. They regularly walked the parks and visiting family members were often treated to wonderful tours of the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park.
During her 18 years living with Maurie in Las Vegas, Ruth’s penchant for slots and bingo yielded amazing results, including enough funds for a new refrigerator. Also, many friends and family benefitted as her guests at her favorite “members only” casino buffet dinners. Ever the “hostess with the mostest”, during her surprise 80th birthday celebration at a Las Vegas hotel, she insisted on walking around the entire banquet hall to greet over 100 guests individually—not long after recovering from hip replacement.
Her determination and love of life helped her beat ovarian cancer and make the move back to her “second home”, the San Francisco Bay Area, in 2014. Always interested in people, Ruth made new friends and enjoyed visiting with family as much as possible. She was a non-stop reader and enjoyed sharing her “already-reads” with friends, family, and her senior living community libraries. She had a vibrant smile, an infectious laugh and sense of humor, a sharp wit, a vivid imagination, and she was a self-proclaimed “chocoholic” insisting that a little bit of chocolate made everything better.
Ruth passed away peacefully on August 14, 2020. She will be much missed, and is survived by her loving family, including daughter Barbara and son-in-law, Steven Pomerantz; son Steven and daughter-in-law, Virginia Leitner; daughter Judi Leitner, and daughter Valerie Shalin, and son-in-law Harry Abramovitz; grandchildren, Brian and granddaughter-in-law, Priscilla Leitner; Kevin Leitner, Shaina Pomerantz, and Keya Pomerantz; four great-granddaughters, and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and adoring friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ruth’s memory to Drivers for Survivors via https://driversforsurvivors.org/, City of Hope, American Cancer Society, or an organization of your choice.
A video tribute can be viewed on YouTube using the following link: https://youtu.be/XmrXRZ4fFpI.