RUTH NEEDHAM RHINEHART, 88, died Wednesday, May 21, 2008 at Hospice Home in Fort Wayne. Ruth had lived a life dedicated to education, music, family, and the community at large.
Originally from Kendallville, she and her parents Basil E. and Inez E. Needham, moved to Fort Wayne’s North Side High School area. It was there, at age 10, that she began teaching others how to play the piano, a joyful endeavor that continued for decades.
Her belief in the power of education is almost as great as is her love for music. She became an educator herself and began teaching English and music for the Fort Wayne Community School Corporation in the 1940s.
She interrupted her classroom teaching career after she and her husband, John, began a family. While the Rhineharts imbued their children with a love of music, she also kept active in the community, volunteering at the church where she has been a member for over 75 years, with numerous charitable organizations, and by spreading the joy of music with her piano playing at venues all across the community.
After the children were reared, she returned to teaching music and accompanying for FWCS for 20 years, and then spent another 10 years as a volunteer accompanist for the Canterbury School Children’s Choir. Her music career continued as a member of the Town House Handbell Choir.
Ruth was an outstanding steward and has been instrumental in furthering the mission for higher education at IPFW. Ruth and her family have always been generous in their support of IPFW and its many programs. Their most recent donation culminated in the naming of the new music building, which bears their name: The John and Ruth Rhinehart Music Center. It is a state-of-the-art facility that provides abundant opportunities for IPFW students and Fort Wayne community members to enjoy music in its many forms, as well as important lectures and other events.
For all that Ruth Needham Rhinehart has done for music and education; for all the children’s lives she has touched with music; for the betterment of IPFW and the Fort Wayne Community at large, Purdue University was proud to confer upon her the Doctor of Humane Letters.
She was active over the years in various organizations, president of Antiquarian Club, president of Art Appreciation Club, offices of P.E.O., Duo Decimo, president of Women’s Reading Club, Deacon & member for over 80 years at First Presbyterian Church, Fort Wayne Country Club, Indiana University Foundation, president of Friends of I.U., Chi Omega Alumni Group, Tri kappa Sorority, Clara Porter Yarnelle Group IV president, Board of Y.W.C.A. and president of the Women’s Association.
She is survived by her children, Julie Waterfield, Dr. Steven (Annemarie) Rhinehart, Philip (Kathleen) Rhinehart all of Fort Wayne and, Lori (Robert) Watkins of Hamilton; grandchildren, Richard (Stefanie), John Randall, and Jill Waterfield; Alison (Donnie) deCastro, Jonathon (Katrina) & Michael Rhinehart; Elizabeth (Nick) Rorick, David, Kimberly and Andrew Rhinehart; John, Robert, Peter, Daniel, & Theodore Watkins; great-grandchildren, Sterling Waterfield, Gavin, Taylor and Peyton Rhinehart and Grayson Rorick. She is also survived by a sister-in-law Jane W. Needham.
Preceded in death by her husband John R. Rhinehart and her brother Dean B. Needham.
The Sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church, 300 West Wayne Street was open at 10 a.m. for gathering with Services at 11 a.m. There was a reception for those in attendance following the Service in McKay Hall. Dr. John Stephen Park officiating. Arrangements by D.O. McComb & Sons Covington Knolls Funeral Home, 8325 Covington Road.
Memorials to First Presbyterian Church, Indiana University School of Music or The Towne House.
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