Ruth Evelyn Katz, 95

Q-C arts, culture advocate dies at 95

2012-10-09T00:30:00Z 2012-10-09T05:21:05Z Q-C arts, culture advocate dies at 95Kay Luna The Quad-City Times
October 09, 2012 12:30 am  • 

A Rock Island woman known for her devotion to Quad-City cultural and civic organizations died Monday.

Services for Ruth Evelyn Katz, 95, will be 11 a.m. Wednesday at Congregation Beth Israel at Tri-City Jewish Center, Rock Island. There will be no visitation.

Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home, Rock Island, is in charge of arrangements.

Katz served 69 years on the senior board of the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra, was a former president and long-time member of the Rock Island Public Library board of trustees,

vice-president of the board of Bethany Home and was involved with Quad-City Arts and the Figge Museum, among other organizations.

“You hear about people supporting this cause and that cause, but she walked the walk,” said Amy Penry, interim director and assistant director of the Rock Island Public Library. “It’s a big loss for the whole Quad-City area.”

Penry called Katz “refined, classy, strong” as she described her family’s immense impact on the library, where her husband and brother also served over the years. She said Katz was responsible for bringing artwork to the rotunda of the main library in downtown Rock Island, and served as the conduit to bring together the library and Augustana College to sponsor an ongoing lecture series.

Katz supported the library in other ways, too, including the creation of memorial funds in memory of her late husband and daughter, which provide money to purchase library reading materials, Penry said.

She also left behind ripples at the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra, where she was an avid supporter and volunteer for most of her life. She has been named honorary chair of the board of trustees for two seasons because of that service, symphony marketing director Jared W. Johnson said.

Katz was “a mentor, adviser and supporter,” said symphony board chairwoman Julie McHard, adding, “She was charming and funny and taught many of us how to give of our time and funds to support the arts we love.”

“Six decades of the QCSO’s 98-year history were largely written and shaped by Ruth Evelyn Katz,” said Lance Willett, former executive director of the symphony, who worked with Katz for 31 years. “She led with action, spirit and by the example of her generosity. She guided and prodded us to stay on mission, and on task by reminding board members, conductors, musicians, soloists and staff that what we were all about, after all, was the music.”

The former Ruth Evelyn Harris was married in 1936 to Isador Katz, a longtime Rock Island attorney who died in 1996. They both received many awards for their philanthropy.

She loved to travel, and visited every continent except Antarctica.

(David Burke contributed to this story.)

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