In Memoriam: Ruth J. Roberts, EdD

July 13, 2012

Dr. Ruth Roberts, the Boling Center Training Coordinator for the last nine years, passed away on July 12, 2012 after a year-long fight with cancer.

Ruth joined the Boling Center on February 24, 2003, presided over marked growth in the Center's training program, and was a leader on many local and statewide community service boards. Ruth dedicated herself to developing, producing, and annually improving a top-notch interdisciplinary training program. She initiated the Family Mentorship Program at the Boling Center and was one of the lead authors in the AUCD publication Promising Practices in Family Mentorship: A Guidebook for MCHB -LEND Training Programs.  This Guidebook is a current resource to LEND programs across the nation.

Anyone who knew Ruth learned very quickly that her passion was the importance of siblings in the life of people with disabilities.  Ruth brought her special perspective as the sibling of a person with a disability to Boling Center programs but also to research efforts highlighting the role of siblings. The sibling perspective is sometimes lost when we think of families and disability. Ruth served on the planning committee for the annual Tennessee Adult Brothers and Sisters (TABS) conferences.  She was a sibling representative to the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's Community Advisory Board.

Ruth was an advocate, for herself as a sibling, her sister, and all people with disabilities. She gently but persistently reminded us all about the importance of seeing disability across the lifespan, a reminder sometimes needed for those with a pediatric background.

Her love was The Arc Tennessee, the advocacy organization devoted to serving those in the state with disabilities and their families.  Ruth served on the Executive Board for The Arc from 2006-2010 and was President of the Board from 2008-2010.  During that time, Ruth was recognized for her advocacy and volunteer efforts by receiving the Janet Clark Memorial Award which is given to an outstanding volunteer who has worked statewide. She was especially proud of her work with the Human Rights Committee of West Tennessee which allowed her to advocate for individuals and their enriched lives in the community.

Her friends and colleagues will miss Ruth and her special insights.  Her commitment to quality training, always drawing on the essential input from people with disabilities and their families, will remain with all of us.

written by Dr. Fred Palmer and Elizabeth Bishop
Boling Center

Read Ruth's obituary here and learn how to make a donation to the American Cancer Society in her honor.