In Memory of Ruth Ann Wright
November 24, 1938-November 4, 2020
The Illinois Association for Gifted Children remembers Ruth Ann Wright with gratitude for her dedication to gifted children and her leadership. Ruth was a founding member and the first President of the IAGC (1990-1991), and she was known throughout Illinois for her work serving gifted children, their teachers, and their families.
She is survived by her husband, Keith Wright, of Glen Ellyn, Illinois and Oliver Lake, Indiana, her daughter, Lisa Ann (Ted) Lane of Chicago; and two granddaughters, Kyra Ann Lane and Marissa Ann Lane.
In 1996, the Ruth Wright Professional Development Scholarship was established to support members of IAGC who currently work in the area of gifted education by providing free admission to the annual IAGC Conference. If you would like to make a donation to this scholarship fund in memory of Ruth Wright, you may do so on the IAGC Donation Webpage.
Memories of Ruth and her work with the Illinois Association for Gifted Children are being collected and shared on this page. If you would like to share a memory to post, please make your submission online here: Memories of Ruth Wright
A Memory Wall: Ruth Ann Wright
My first relationship with Ruth began when she was the gifted coordinator for Schaumburg's School District gifted program. Throughout her years there, as well as in retirement, Ruth mentored me as I worked with the gifted program in my school district. She was such a helpful resource!
Ruth also was a close friend of mine as we discovered our mutual love of dachshunds! She and her husband Keith, were owners of several dachshunds over the years as so was I. We worked through the joys and sorrow of each "doxie" we had.
Her passion with the IAGC organization was unbelievable. She worked so hard to make sure everyone knew how important it was to support gifted education and to promote training for teachers, legislation for gifted education funding, appropriate identification of gifted students and above all, the recognition of quality gifted programs in Illinois school districts.
Ruth loved to travel and loved to participate in church and theater activities. She loved her family and loved watching her granddaughters compete in cheerleading events.
Who can forget the marvelous gift baskets Ruth would make and donate for the IAGC Convention annual meeting raffle? From all her travels, Ruth would include the most interesting items in her baskets and then tell us all about it! We all pray we had the winning ticket and were so excited if we win! Alas, I never won a basket but I sure remembered Ruth’s travel stories!
In my mind, I will always remember the twinkle in Ruth's eyes as she spoke. There wasn't anything she wasn't passionate about and when she did speak, you listened. The woman was a born storyteller!
She was one of a kind! I will miss her.....
- Danute Krebs, friend
Ruth Wright has been a mover and shaker in gifted education for over 50 years. We met while we were both taking one of the early gifted classes available in the late 60's for a few of us who were lucky enough to be in districts with a vision for providing opportunities for gifted and talented students. Visiting Ruth's 5th/6th grade classroom was my first feeling that she not only saw the potential for advancing services for these children, but she also had her own vision for how to lead the way for other educators and parents. After creating a model gifted program in another suburban district, Ruth was ready for a new challenge. So along with some early leaders it was time to go statewide by creating the Illinois Association for Gifted Children (IAGC).
It was the late 80's when IAGC began with a strong group of advocates who wanted to build a network to support educators, parents, and of course students. Ruth was the first president and board chair. Along with a group of enthusiastic and dedicated professionals the process of applying for the various documents to begin a not-for-profit was underway. Ruth demonstrated all of the qualities that led to success for this organization's beginning...intelligence, creative thinking and perseverance. It's due to Ruth and the other early leaders that IAGC is a strong statewide organization today.
Ruth's enthusiasm for all that she did was infectious. It was often clear that she felt a direction, had an opinion, and dove in to problem-solve with the tenacity of a termite. Once IAGC was functioning and in place Ruth moved on to other endeavors, but continued to stay involved. She was instrumental in helping to meet with state leaders along with a group of us who were requesting permission to use our district funds to create a statewide convention. Once the convention came to be, Ruth volunteered to design baskets for a raffle to be used during the annual meeting that occurred at the convention. Because Ruth was traveling extensively, she became the creative gift basket lady who brought containers of goodies from around the world to dispense to some lucky attendees at the IAGC convention's annual meeting. These baskets were created with love as Ruth gave money to some of her other traveling friends and requested that they bring back a treasure to be added to the baskets. In addition, Ruth solicited gifts from local merchants. Always thinking, always pro-active, always a friend, Ruth's bubble of abilities overflowed with kindness and enthusiasm. There are so many fond memories that it's difficult to end this tribute to a lady who I've always admired and will continue to do so.Thank you Ruth for sharing your gifts that have impacted so many.
-Bonnie Park, friend
Several years ago, the Ruth Wright Professional Development Scholarship award brought me to the IAGC Conference which, at the time, I might not have otherwise attended. The encouragement that I received from Ruth was a source of strength to me as an educator, and I will always be grateful. She made me feel a sense of connection to the IAGC -- a connection that continues to bring growth, joy and inspiration through the work of others who share her passion for the field of gifted education.
-Patsy Steinmeyer, Executive Director, IAGC
Ruth was the first person who approached me and explained how IAGC supported students, educators and parents. Her passion for meeting the needs of gifted kids was convincing and I eagerly joined the organization. Ruth was our first President and throughout the years, we have seen her hand in so many areas of the organization. She was hard working and had a flair for creative options! I was lucky enough to win one of her famous baskets! Ruth will always be remembered with much warmth for all she did to support all areas of gifted education!
-Pam DePinto, friend & fellow supporter of gifted education
In the 1980s a group of educators committed to seeing growth and change in the gifted education community in Illinois met informally to seek solutions. Ruth was a very integral part of that group. It was she who suggested that we look into forming an Illinois State Affiliate of NAGC. Ruth pursued the pathway to make that happen and soon we had a structure in which to create growth in the field of gifted education. Ruth was elected our first president. I was the vice president. That first slate of officers worked long and hard to create the structure and build the necessary provisions to move the fledgling organization along.
In those early days we worked together so closely. It was a joy to work with her. Ruth was a marvelous big picture thinker. She had the ability to make leaps that got us moving and growing at rapid rates as membership spread all over the state. Ruth and I spent many hours with pro bono attorneys who helped IAGC structure our not for profit, tax exempt status. We set up the first board of directors, Ruth was the first IAGC board chair. She continued to have roles in IAGC long after she retired.
I knew her to be one of the most optimistic and positive people in our field. So many of us worked alone as individuals in gifted programs. We leaned on each other across districts for ideas and help. Ruth was always very giving of her time, skills and significant leadership.
I grew to appreciate Ruth professionally but also personally. She was a dear soul who made such a difference in the lives of the people she encountered, both students and teachers. So many of whom became friends. Ruth's work at IAGC will be a part of her legacy. What a treasure for IAGC.
-Mary Ann Paradise, Fellow Officer of IAGC