Ruth Corwin Meyer

Meyer—Ruth Corwin Meyer, 83, on May 11, 2017, in Rio Rancho, N.M. Ruth was born on September 21, 1933, in Rochester, N.Y., the only child of Elizabeth and George Corwin, founders of Wilton (Conn.) Meeting. This birthright Friend grew up in Wilton Meeting, attending First-day school and taking part in Young Friends activities. When her first piano teacher in grade school told her parents she had no aptitude, they soon found a more insightful teacher. She graduated from Oberlin Conservatory of Music in piano and French horn in 1955 and earned a master’s in music at Eastman School of Music. On a Fulbright scholarship in 1957 to study in Salzburg, Austria, at the Mozarteum Academy for Music and the Performing Arts, she met Martin Beat Meyer, a Swiss conducting student. They married under the care of Wilton Meeting, and after their studies lived briefly in Switzerland and then in the United States.

They divorced in 1965, and Ruth moved to Boulder, Colo., for a doctorate in musical arts at University of Colorado. Her first teaching position was at Oberlin Conservatory, where she replaced her own former professor Jack Radunsky for the 1969 fall semester. Finishing her degree in 1970, she taught piano for two years at Western Colorado University, becoming a close friend of the family of oboist Forest Cornwell. The friendship with this adopted family endured and flourished, and she visited them in Montana, where they later moved, many summers and Christmastimes.

She moved to Portales, N.M., to teach and chair the Piano and Piano Preparatory Departments at Eastern New Mexico University, playing for several years in a trio with two colleagues, violinist Katherine Thayer and cellist Art Welker. She had an incomparable gift for teaching and treated her students with patience, respect, and care; if they were struggling financially she found a way to help them earn money. They would sometimes live or travel with her.

Along with her devotion to music and her students, she was committed to the Religious Society of Friends. In the 1983–84 academic year, to celebrate her fiftieth birthday, she took leave to live and study at Pendle Hill Quaker study center in Wallingford, Pa., often speaking later about her teacher, Dyckman Vermilye, who made a lasting impression on her.

When she retired in 1989, she moved to Rio Rancho, continuing to teach pedagogy and piano to area teachers and tutoring math at a local middle school. In 1990 she transferred her membership to Albuquerque (N.M.) Meeting. She contributed a quiet, steady presence, serving on the Peace and Social Concern Committee and enjoying third Sunday potluck lunches. She played at the sixtieth anniversary of the meeting’s founding, and her bequest to Pendle Hill and the one leaving her family Bible to Albuquerque Meeting reflect Quakerism’s deep spiritual influence.

A brain aneurysm in 1994 abruptly changed her way of living. Losing her short-term memory ended her independence but did not dim her buoyant, warm, generous spirit. She could still play music that she already knew and learn new pieces. With her friend Janis she often performed four-hand compositions, and her joy and appreciation of live classical music remained strong. When her assisted living facility closed, Brenda Oates, the manager, invited her to live in her home, and she became part of a vibrant extended family.

Ruth is survived and remembered by her friends, many of them former students.


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