Ruth Jane Laessle

LaessleRuth Jane Laessle, 93, on December 4, 2016, at home in Austin, Tex. Jane was born on September 30, 1923, in Moorestown, N.J., to Alice May Roberts and Charles Laessle Jr. Her parents had also been born in Moorestown, a quiet town ten miles east of Philadelphia, and she grew up a bike ride away from her grandparents and great-aunt. A lifelong Quaker, she attended Moorestown Friends School for 12 years, graduating in 1941, and after attending Hood College, graduated from the University of the Arts (Philadelphia) in 1946. Working in New York as a fashion illustrator for Women’s Wear Daily, in 1948 she met Edward Alexander Butts at a party in Greenwich Village.

They married in 1949 and later moved to Dallas, where she eventually returned to fashion illustration for Neiman Marcus and A. Harris. The family attended Dallas Unitarian Church, which served as the center of its social life. After her divorce from Ed in 1978, she moved to Fredericksburg, Tex., in 1981 to start a new life in the Texas hill country town that reminded her of her hometown in New Jersey. Reconnecting with Quakers, she worked with Friends World Committee for Consultation and the Quaker United Nations Office, traveling all over the world. She was clerk for Right Sharing of World Resources and attended triennial meetings in Kenya, Mexico, and Tokyo. She also began monthly meetings of Hill Country Democrats and helped establish the Fredericksburg Peace Coalition. Moving to Austin in 1986, she joined Austin Meeting of Friends.

An accomplished painter, sculptor, potter, teacher, and political activist, she made quilts, read extensively, spent hours at work in her tidy backyard garden, and in 2003 published her autobiography, A Builder’s Daughter. In 2007 she moved into Brookdale Westlake Hills (then The Summit) senior living facility, where she took pictures for and later edited the monthly newsletter The Focus.

Jane was preceded in death by her mother, Alice May Roberts; her father, Charles Laessle Jr.; and her older brother, James Roberts Laessle. Having said that “as an artist, I thought there was nothing as creative as making a person,” she is survived by four children, Nina Butts (Paul Pearcy), Michael Butts (Amelia Marie), David Butts (Kazuyo Takagi), and Sally Butts; a son-in-law, Brian East; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. The family would appreciate contributions to Friends Meeting of Austin, 3701 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Austin, TX 78721.

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