Celebrating with Ruth Gruber on her 104th Birthday

The 104th birthday of my longtime author—the storied photojournalist Ruth Gruber, with whom I’ve published six books—was last Wednesday, so yesterday Kyle and I joined Ruth and her daughter Celia to celebrate the latest milestone in Ruth’s remarkable and event-filled life—from meeting Virginia Woolf in the 1930s to journeying through the Soviet Arctic later that decade to working in Alaska as a representative of the FDR administration to chronicling the voyage of the real-life Exodus ship in 1947 to being honored by the International Center of Photography (ICP) in 2012, aspects of her life I’ve chronicled several times on this blog. Photos from our birthday celebration are below, but first note that the ICP’s exhibit of Ruth’s work is now at Brooklyn College where it will be up until February 12, 2016, with an opening this Thursday, October 8. NB: Five of the six books I published w/Ruth in the 1990s and 2000s, including her two remarkable memoirs Ahead of Time and Inside of Time, as well as her book on Virginia Woolf, are available from Open Road Media.

Ruth birthday cake 2Ruth birthday cake

24 replies
  1. Cindy says:

    Ruth Gruber escorted 982 mostly Jewish Holocaust Survivors on the Henry Gibbons from war torn Naples to New York Harbor.
    She visited them in Fort Ontario and worked hard to persuade the government to let them stay after the war.
    They did stay. My late Mom, Tina Korner Chernick, was one of them.
    I am Anerican born, as if my daughter, and grandson.
    Mom died 2 years ago.
    Best wishes to Ruth Gruber on her birthday.

  2. Nellie Garone says:

    I had a student do a National History Day project on Ms. Gruber. What an honor to bring attention to such an incredible life. We were equally honored when Ms. Gruber visited with my student on the phone. Happy Birthday Blessings!

  3. Fran Simhoni says:

    Happy Birthday Ruth! My mother was a dear friend of yours, ‘Doreen Dozar’, and she spoke so highly of you and was so inspired by you. I am glad to be saying Happy 104th Birthday. I met you a couple times with mom and Moshe Prywes:)) XOXO

  4. Sallie Cappel says:

    Happy 104th Birthday Ruth. You are officially the oldest person I know. So glad to see you happy. Such an amazing life and such a dynamic woman. You are an inspiration.

    Sallie Harrington Cappel- 50th Safe Haven reunion chairperson

  5. Susanne Delong says:

    I am a native Oswegonian and have hrr book Haven and read it over and over again. This is a part of the history of my hometown and I have been to the museum many times. Thanks to Ruth for what she did in 1944 . God bless her!

  6. Tom Richards says:

    Alles Gute zum Geburtstag! As we say in German. I am from Oswego and have spent two decades among refugees in Austria. יום הולדת שמח

  7. Cheryl Rogers says:

    In 1994 I took the Oswego High School Orchestra to George Mason University and a highlight was a visit to the newly opened Holocaust Museum. Ruth was kind enough to meet our buses and we had the honor to spend time with her. My students and I would never forget the amazing stories she told of bringing the survivors to Oswego. Thank you for the priceless memories and a very happy birthday!

  8. Ron Friedman says:

    Words cannot adequately express my deepest appreciation to Ruth and my best wishes for a happy birthday. My mother, Flora Kalderon Friedman, my uncle, Si Kalderon, and my grandparents, Avram and Berta Kalderon, were able to come to the US and Oswego because of her courage and tenacity. May she enjoy many more birthdays!

  9. Helen Victor Turk says:

    My paternal grandmother, Dorothea Cohn, was a German who escaped from Germany to Italy. Her husband, my grandfather, died there and no one wanted to bury him. Mutti, as we called her, was very clever and managed to convince some boys to do the job. She was really too old for Ruth’s ship, but, managed to be accepted. I heard about Oswego all my life, but, never understood the extent of the project until I read Haven. My husband, a survivor from France, and I take off from work once a week to volunteer at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Phila. Unfortunately, we missed Ruth’s visit there a few years ago. We wish Ruth good health, vibrant memories and the knowledge that so many of us will always feel indebted to her.

    One last thing. From Ruth’s book, I discovered that my high school French teacher had been in Oswego as a little boy and in the same barracks as my grandmother.

  10. Gloria Fredkove says:

    I want to wish Ruth Gruber a very happy belated birthday on turning 104! Ruth is my “surrogate mother,” having been instrumental in my arrival in Oswego in August of 1944 when I was just 15 months old. We’ve become friends, I found out about my family history because of the book “Haven,” and I can’t say thank you enough! Hope you are doing well, Ruth. You are the most amazing woman ever!! Much love, Gloria (Yolanda)

  11. Shaya Schimel says:

    A belated happy birthday to Ruth Gruber. I heard so much about her from my father, Albert Schimel, who was among those she brought to Oswego from Italy. He was a talented violinist, a devout Jew and a very special person. He raised two sons has four grandchildren and three great grandchildren who live in NY, Phoenix and Tel Aviv. My dad passed in 1999 but he spoke often of the intrepid Ruth Gruber. In the merit and memory of all the survivors she helped rescue and bring to a safe “haven” may she continue to celebrate many more birthdays. G-d bless you Ruth! Shaya

  12. Tracey Gonopolsky says:

    So glad to hear about Ruth’s birthday and find this website. Ruth was responsible for bringing my grandparents (Kitty and Branko Kaufman) and my mother (Eva Kaufman Dye – age 8) over on the ship from Naples. My grandparents are gone but my mother is 79 and really active and living in the San Francisco / Bay Area. My parents are big supporters of the museum in Oswego. My grandfather was also a photographer and many of his pictures can be seen in Ruth’s book, “Haven,” and in the museum. I hope to make it out there one day. Thank you for keeping Ruth’s courage and selflessness available for others to see and learn from.
    Tracey Dye Gonopolsky – Oakland, CA

    • Conner Alder says:

      I am working with a group of three other students on a National History Day project about Ruth Gruber and the Oswego refugee camp. We would be honored if you could describe your relatives experience with Dr. Gruber, US citizenship, and Fort Ontario. Thank you for your time.

  13. Stephen Rockower says:

    Happy Birthday to my oldest cousin! One of the more impressive people I have ever had a chance to meet and speak with.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] *** For her part, Ruth Gruber, before and after WWII, wrote for the Herald Tribune and the NY Post. Unlike Mitchell and Ellis, she oscillated in and out journalism, working for a time in the federal government during the FDR Administration, as Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes’ special representative to Alaska. Ruth is, so far as I know, the eldest surviving member of the Franklin Roosevelt Administration. This post is about a 104th birthday gathering with her this past October. […]

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