Ruth Chapin Fort

April 28, 2021


Ruth Chapin Fort (1923-2021) died April 28 in her home in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Her bravery, good humor and care for those around her comforted us to her end.

Mom was raised by her widowed mother, along with four other siblings, during the Great Depression. She studied Ancient Greek at the University of Chicago, maintaining a strong interest in the classics as well as contemporary Greece throughout her life. Her marriage to Dr. John P. Fort, Jr., took them to Europe immediately after the War, where Dad served as a Public Health Officer. After their return to the U.S., four children were born, with Denise, Arthur, and Bruce surviving, and two grandchildren, Madeleine and Oksana. Aunts, uncles and cousins were always present. For the remainder of our lives we knew that we were adored, learning just now that every letter, picture and clippingof our lives was carefully saved.

Mom was an activist and fighter for justice throughout her life. She marched to ban above ground nuclear testing, to stop the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, for civil rights, and on a host of local causes. As we reached our teen years Mom joined the public interest world, working for the Center for the Study of Public Interest Law and several groups in the Nader orbit. She authored and co-authored books to help consumers and activists, and used her sharp editorial skills on many books by the Nader’s Raiders.

After marrying Arthur E. (Ted) Rowse, III, a journalist and consumer advocate, she tried retirement, but following an unforgettable year in Greece with Ted, she returned to volunteer for the Clinton White House (correcting antigay callers on their Biblical interpretations), the ACLU, and other public interest groups. She tried to be arrested for passing out brochures at a mall, for demonstrating against the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General, and at a climate demonstration, but her frailty led to her being led away instead. We had fun too, like the night that Nixon resigned when we drank champagne in front of the White House. The world she lived in was large, with activists from around the world welcome at her home and a vigorous correspondence with many writers and political activists.

Mom believed music began and ended with Bach (perhaps allowing Tallis, Byrd, Schutz and even a little late Beethoven) and played on her treasured Baby Grand. In the earlier days in DC she was part of the Modern Dance Movement, then joined a yoga class with a beloved teacher.

Finally, perhaps most importantly, Mom loved nature and animals. Her backyard is full of azaleas, birds, squirrels, and occasionally raccoons. Mom loved them all, and the family dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and parakeets were fully part of the family. Naturally she became a vegetarian.

In lieu of flowers, and In Ruth’s honor, please work to save the earth, feed all the animals, and fight injustice wherever you see it. Support Mercy for Animals, FARM (Farm Animal Rights Organization), Earthjustice and the many other groups that are fighting for this world


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