Ruth R. Lapides

Ruth R. Lapides passed away peacefully at home in Woodbridge, CT on February 10, 2011.  Her zest for life, love of family and friends and creative spirit was ever present in her passion for the arts, her warm and hospitable home, and her many paintings, sculptures and garden. Mrs. Lapides was the beloved wife for 54 years of the late Robert E. Lapides, and daughter of the late Dr. Harry S. and Gladys L. Rosenberg of Meriden, CT.  Mrs. Lapides attended St. Margaret’s School, now the Chase School, in Waterbury, CT, and graduated from Barnard College with a B.A. in history in 1947. Her lifelong involvement in the arts of New Haven was honored twice. In 2005, she received the C. Newton Schenck III Award for Lifetime Achievement and Contribution to the Arts from the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, a cast bronze award which she had designed in 1993. In 2010 Mrs. Lapides was the recipient of the New Haven Symphony Women of Note Award. She pursued her artistic talent in the 1960s when she began painting with watercolors, acrylic and oils.  Always on top of the current trends in art, fashion and style, she began creating oversized abstract paintings. She could be often found exploring MoMA and the galleries of NYC. Mrs. Lapides began sculpting, inspired by the aluminum manufactured at her husband’s company, United Aluminum Corporation in North Haven. Kaiser Aluminum purchased several of her sculptures for their national headquarters in Oakland, California, and also produced a video on Mrs. Lapides’ work, which was shown on public television.   She was awarded commissions for cast bronze sculptures for local and national charities and organizations.  Mrs. Lapides’ tree of life sculptures are installed across the US, including the Leadership Development Center of the YWCA in Phoenix, Arizona and the Michael J. McGivney Center for Cancer Care of the Hospital of St. Raphael’s, in New Haven in 1993. She created a bronze sculpture in 1995 for the Brennan Center for Justice in New York City, which was presented to former Justice Brennan of the US Supreme Court by his law clerks. Mrs. Lapides was an active leader in the arts community. She motivated countless others to actively connect with New Haven’s leading arts organizations.  As President of the O.C. Marsh Fellows program, Mrs. Lapides entertained the crowd as she introduced the monthly speakers. Over five decades, she served as a member of the Boards of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, Creative Arts Workshop, Yale Art Gallery Associates and the New Haven Symphony Auxiliary and she was also a fellow of Branford College at Yale. Ruth delighted in helping to plan spectacular galas on behalf of many New Haven arts organizations. She was also politically active.  She was a founding member of the Women’s Grassroots Committee of The Aluminum Association, Inc., of Washington, D.C. in 1977, and Secretary and Vice-Chairperson of the North Haven Parks Commission from 1960 to 1966.  Mrs. Lapides was a member of the North Haven League of Women’s Voters where she also served on the Board of Directors from 1960 to1975 and she served as President of the Democratic Women’s Club of North Haven during the 1970s. Mrs. Lapides adored flowers, especially orchids. Her spectacular garden included rare and unusual plants. But most of all, she was thoughtful and generous, sending her love with gifts of flowers on any and all occasions. Mrs. Lapides is survived by her loving children and their spouses, John Lapides and his wife Melanie Ginter of New Haven and their children Natalie and Harrison, James Lapides and his wife Michelle of Brookline, MA, and Susan Lapides and her husband Peter Wilson and their children Sofia and Xia of Cambridge, MA.

The funeral service will be held Sunday, February 13 at 1:30 P.M. at Congregation Mishkan Israel, Hamden CT.  Memorial contributions may be made to Congregation Mishkan Israel, 785 Ridge Road, Hamden, CT 06517, the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, 70 Audubon Street, 2nd Floor, New Haven, CT 06510, the Creative Arts Workshop, 80 Audubon Street, New Haven, CT 06510 or the charity of your choice.

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  1. Lisa Totman said,

    02.10.11 at 11:20 pm

    What a great lady–and what a great loss! She was one of a kind, and all who knew her will miss her terribly.

  2. Cheryl Meyerson said,

    02.11.11 at 9:16 pm

    Our love and prayers are with you all. I know how much your Mom meant to you and I know she is with you now in spirit.

    Lots of love and friendship,

    Cheryl, Stuart and Carly

  3. BobbsieHertzRifkin said,

    02.12.11 at 5:41 am

    Dear John, Jimmy, and Susan,
    I have fond memories of our two families dating way back to Ridge Top, just seconds away from your Skiff Street home!! Our parents (Dolly and Aaron)your Mom and Dad(Bob) have/had been friends for years.
    Now they are ALL together again. Nancy joins me in expressing our sympathy to each of you at this sad time.
    Bobbsie Hertz Rifkin

  4. marian + howard spiro said,

    02.12.11 at 9:53 am

    Ruth was, needless to say, a remarkable woman and a wonderful contributor to our community. She will be missed. by us all. Marian + Howard Spiro.

  5. Frederick Russo said,

    02.12.11 at 2:05 pm

    Dear John & family:
    Please eaccept my deepest condolences with the passing of your mother.
    There are not many words that truly express the loss that you now feel.
    I would simply like to say “I’m sorry” and will keep her in my prayers.

    God bless your family.

    Fred Russo

  6. Dan Kops, Jr. said,

    02.12.11 at 4:17 pm

    The Kops family mourns your loss with all of you. The obituary is a loving tribute that reminds us all of the many contributions she made to the greater New Haven community.

    Dan Kops, Jr.

  7. Melissa Torfason (Galaxy Hair Salon) said,

    02.12.11 at 9:16 pm

    Dear Susan, James, John,

    Please accept my deepest condolences to you and your family. Your mother was an incredible, very talented woman, she will be missed greatly, she always had a smile on her face. She was very caring, loving to here children and grandchildren. She will always be in my prayers.

    Melissa Torfason
    (Galaxy Hair Salon New Haven, CT)

  8. Lynn Orr said,

    02.13.11 at 7:08 am


    Please extend my sympathy to your entire family. My thoughts and prayers are with you.


  9. Susan Granger & James Mapes said,

    02.13.11 at 7:51 am

    Ruth will always be in our hearts. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.
    Susan & Jim

  10. john and Virginia Wilkinson said,

    02.13.11 at 8:23 am

    Dear John, Jim, and Susan,

    Virginia and I are deeply saddened by the death of your wonderful mother, a great and generous friend to so many of us, and a force for good in the New Haven community. Her care and kindness, and above all, her humor made all our lives much richer. Bob and Ruth! What a pair!

    John and Virginia

  11. Jeanne Musto said,

    02.13.11 at 11:27 am

    I will always remember Ruth for her kindness, generosity, and creative & exuberant spirit.

  12. Jeanne Musto said,

    02.13.11 at 11:33 am

    I will always remember Ruth for her kindness, generosity, creativity & exuberant spirit.

  13. Albert Cook said,

    02.13.11 at 11:39 am

    Dear Susan

    Heartfelt condolences to you and your brothers. Your mom was a accomplished and active woman, and it’s easy to see where at least some of your grace and artistic abilities come from. I am glad that your mother was Blessed to witness your journey as an adult, Mother, Amazing Photographer and a proud Daughter.



  14. Mr. and Mrs. James S. Tonkin said,

    02.13.11 at 1:53 pm

    Ruthie was a great inspiration to our family… as a good friend to my mother Carole (Tonkin) Robinson for 70+ years, I had the pleasure of being in Ruth’s company on numerous occasions. She had a way of lighting up a room, taking command of conversation with her ‘raspy sensuous’ voice and those beautiful eyes~ she was a stunning lady, always full of humor and grace. She will missed by so many, and our hearts are saddened by the loss of Ruthie…to my friend Johnny, his brother Jimmy and sister Susie, and all the grandkids and fellow family members, our love and comforting wishes to you all at this time of reflection, celebration of her life, and condolence~ be well and onward….

    with best regards and love,

    Jim and Cathy Tonkin

  15. Stephen Rosenman said,

    02.13.11 at 1:53 pm

    Dear John and family,

    I was so sorry to hear of your loss and wish to send my sincere condolences. Living in the New Haven area from 1963-1985, during which most of my formal education took place, I am certain that I and my family enjoyed many positive interactions with the New Haven arts community that were, directly or indirectly, the results of Ruth’s generous spirit. May the many people whose lives she touched to make this world a better place be a source of comfort to you. (And John, thank you again for saving my daughter from a strong rip tide while swimming in the Galapagos in 2004!)

    In peace,
    Steve Rosenman
    Mercer Island, WA

  16. Carolyn Spiro Silvestri said,

    02.13.11 at 3:52 pm

    Dear Jimmy and family,
    I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your wonderful mother. Having moved away from the New Haven area after we grew up, I never knew how accomplished she was. Reading some of the entries above I realize how much she will be missed. My sincere condolences to you and your whole family.
    With fond memories,
    Lynn Spiro

  17. bill ann( tonkin) woods said,

    02.13.11 at 8:15 pm

    dearest johnny, jimmy, susie, and all extended family,

    our prayers go to all of you today, hoping you can find a peace with your your dearest mothers passing on.

    ruthie was always a shining light in my mothers world (carole tonkin robinson). the friendship they shared for over seventy years was remarkable. carole loved her special times whether it was just she and ruthie, or the four of them, bob ruthie, rob and mom. mom has spoken about their special times together often through the years. ruthie was and always will be her best, and dearest friend!

    i will never forget ruthie coming out just for our wedding. bill and i got married on our horses and ruthie was right there enjoying the horses,and all our animals. it was more than special having her there with all of us.

    we send our love to all of you
    bill and ann (tonkin) woods

  18. Judy, Rich and Wen Wen said,

    02.14.11 at 8:03 am

    Dear Susan, Peter, Xia, Sophia, jim and Michelle,

    Our sincere condolences! We hope the funeral was a great and supportive gathering of friends and family and a wonderful time to remember together the great life your mother/grandmother lived. We are all thinking of all of you and send all our love and support.

    much love,

    Judy Rich and Wen Wen

  19. David Scheer said,

    02.14.11 at 5:37 pm

    Dear John, and family:

    Tracey and I are very sorry about the loss of your mother. Although I did not know her, in reading her obituary, it is clear that she has contributed a great deal to our community, and certainly is an inspiration for all of us who regard such a commitment to give back as an important part of life.

    Tracey and David Scheer

  20. Marcia Cavanaugh said,

    02.14.11 at 6:03 pm

    John & Melanie: My deepest sympathy on your tremendous loss for a woman who did her own thing in the best ways. Also, sympathy to Jim who I have not seen since Shubert days.

  21. Fred E and Catharine S Walker said,

    02.14.11 at 8:56 pm

    We mourn the loss of a dedicated women…an artist in so many ways…as mother, community leader and an inspiration for others.

    Our sympathy to the family.

    Catharine and Fred Walker

  22. Elizabeth Gatti said,

    02.19.11 at 12:55 pm


    What a remarkable woman, your mother! I am deeply sorry for your loss and extend my sincere sympathy to you and your family. Your mother will be missed by so many, across so many different communities, a testimony to her greatness.

    with love,
    Liz Gatti

  23. Francisco Palmieri said,

    02.22.11 at 6:02 am

    Dear John, Jim, and Susan,

    My heart is so filled with love for your mother and father that it aches to learn the sad news of Ruth’s passing. I know how much you now miss them both. Ruith was a beacon of inspiration and font of generosity that enriched many, many lives, especially the Palmieri family.

    You all were gone from Hopkins by the time I arrived so you may not know how much support and guidance your parents gave me during my time there, at Princeton, and in Washington as a I found my own path in life. Whatever challenges I faced in adjusting to life on the Hill were eased by your parent’s confidence in me and encouragement.

    It was hard to be here in Baghdad and not able to attend the service for Ruth. But I know that my work honors the faith and support she always showed and shared with me — from setting up my first job interviews ni Washington to always weloming me back to New Haven with a requisite briefing on the latest foreign policy developments.

    I will miss her dearly and will keep all of you in thoughts,
    Francisco Palmieri
    Baghdad, Iraq

  24. Dawn & Marshall Davidson said,

    02.22.11 at 8:35 pm

    Dear Ruth,
    You have given so much to so many.
    We will miss your friendship very much.
    Dawn and Marshall