2008-05-07 / Obituaries

Ruth Catherine Seeber

Singer, actress, director and mother Ruth Catherine Seeber (nee Schuster) passed away three days short of her 84th birthday during emergency surgery April 19, 2008. Born April 22, 1924 in Hoboken, NJ, she was the devoted and loving mother of six and a talented singer, actress and director. She had an inquisitive mind and loved to laugh at the world's foibles. Books were her passion.

At the age of 18 she moved to Greenwich Village, where she supported herself as a corporate secretary to pay for her own schooling at Julliard. She met her former husband Roy F. Seeber when he auditioned her for the Robert Shaw Collegiate Chorale. They were married in 1946. They had six children in six years (three of them in 10 months, when their second daughter was followed by an unplanned pregnancy and unexpected twin sons).

She and Roy sacrificed their burgeoning artistic careers to raise a family. After having two daughters in Cold Spring, the birth of the twins demanded more room and they purchased a large house in Garrison. The couple would not abandon their creative pursuits and Ruth sang for The Bell Telephone Radio Hour in NYC. She also sang for Robert Shaw at Tanglewood and in several chorales Roy founded.

Once their children entered elementary school (Garrison Union Free School), the couple used the school stage to present a variety of the top musicals of the day, including Guys & Dolls, The King and I, South Pacific and The Sound of Music.

For almost two decades Ruth sang the alto lead in Handel's Messiah every Christmas in the Cadet Chapel at West Point as her husband conducted the Cadet choir.

Ruth also wrote a weekly column for the Putnam County News and Recorder.

In the early 1960s they founded the Hand-to-Mouth Players in Garrison, so-named because the amateur theatre, housed in a former train depot, sat adjacent to the tracks and performers would pause to put their hands to their mouths when a train passed, and also because it survived hand-tomouth. The theatre survives today as The Garrison Depot Theatre.

In 1971 the family moved to Evergreen, CO. where they cofounded the Evergreen Chorale, which is today 80-strong

They divorced in the early 1980s. Roy preceded her in death in 2000 at the age of 84.

Troubled by near blindness from macular degeneration for the past decade, Ruth nevertheless continued her theatrical involvement by creating a series of staged "Conversations," which featured a cast of three or four portraying historical characters from different eras having animated and primarily ad-libbed discussions about a variety of topics.

One such show was in rehearsal for a May 4 production when she passed away, ironically about health pioneers Florence Nightingale, Clara Barton and Jonas Salk. This "show will go on."

She is survived by daughters C.J. Nielsen of Fall City, Wash. and Melinda Foster of Westminster; sons Rory L. and Rick C. of Denver; Timothy H. of Louisville; and Kerry C. of Conifer; and six grandchildren, Liz and Trina Jordan, Brindy and Jason Foster, Kelly Seeber, and Garrison Seeber. Her first great-grandchild is on the way and she was very excited about the impending birth.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her memory to Talking Books for the Blind, the National Service Library for the Blind, Recordings for the Blind (for whom she once recorded) and KVOD radio, all of which sustained her for years after she lost her sight, or to The Garrison Depot Theatre. A memorial celebration was scheduled to be held May 4 at Denver Civic Theatre.

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