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Ruth Ann (Hanson) Bennett December 20, 1942 - June 30, 2024

Ruth Ann (Hanson) Bennett, 81, passed away on 30 June 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio with her daughter, Christina by her side. The second of two daughters, Ruth was born on 20 December 1942 in San Francisco, California to the late Alexander J. Hanson and Mildred Dawn (Vane) Hanson. Ruth earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University in 1964. She also studied Mathematics at New Mexico State University in the 1980s nearly completing a master’s degree in her spare time. She married Delmer Robert Bennett M.D. on 7 March 1966 in Washoe County, NV (Reno) witnessed by their best friends, Charles and Jeanne Maroosis. Ruth and Robert ran their medical practice in Daily City, CA then Las Cruces, NM (moving there in 1975) for thirty years before retiring.

Ruth was always a bit of a rebel and advocate, and her life reflected that. While in art school at SF State, she proudly took part in the San Francisco civil rights marches and was part of the crowds that shut down the Golden Gate Bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge held a special place in her life; she always claimed it “as her own” and loved San Francisco with all her heart.

She was an advocate for animal welfare and co-founded Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary (Las Cruces, NM) with one of her best friends, Artie Ford. Together, they wrote the grants that purchased the land and initial buildings that would offer the only non-kill option for cats and dogs in the area.

After Robert closed their medical practice around 1994, Ruth took up a different direction of work. Most notably was her design and implementation of the Dona Ana County DWI Drug Court Program. This program, which still serves the county, was a wholly new concept at the time, offering a non-prison pathway to rehabilitation for substance abusers.

Ruth also served on the Dona Ana County ETZ commission, where she rallied for the preservation of the land along the base of the Organ Mountains, passing a building moratorium for the area. This action preserved the land now known as the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.

With her daughter, Ruth enjoyed working with the Rio Grande Girls Scout Council and volunteered as a leader and council trainer for several years and was best known for her creative first aid and survival weekends. She was proud to be mentor and sometimes mother to the girls in her troop.

These are memories Ruth was always proud to recount in her later years. She was an advocate for those that needed a voice and would help the best she could.

Ruth was always passionate about nature and the world around her. She loved the oceans, forests, and deserts and all the creatures residing there. She would enthusiastically recount family road trips around the country—camping, hiking, and riding the wilderness. She never had a bad thing to say about any tree she encountered. She especially loved the Redwoods and cliffs of Northern California, but she equally loved the sky, mountains, and deserts of New Mexico, or any wild place. She loved the world around her as could be seen in her collections of shells, bits of wood, leaves, pebbles, and acorns displayed in little scenes around her home. In her art, these bits could be found as quirky little creatures engaged in some little circumstance. Her art was the outlet for her mind, and she would let her imagination run wild.

Ruth was also a “fun-car” enthusiast and that enthusiasm carried through her life. In her time, she drove a British MGA, a ’64 Corvette, had a brief stint with a Cadillac, then a 2010 MINI Cooper.  She claimed she began drag racing at fifteen, and indeed, the gas pedal was her friend. Every yellow light was a challenge and every signal an opportunity if she was at the front of the line. Driving remained a source of joy for her until she gave it up at the age of 78.

Ruth relocated from New Mexico to Cincinnati, Ohio in 2008 after Robert’s death, to be with her daughter, son in law and grandchildren. She enjoyed the area because the trees, the bridges and the rolling hills reminded her of San Francisco. In 2023, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, she was able to take one final trip to her beloved city accompanied by her daughter and granddaughter. They spent two weeks roaming the state, visiting family, touring the Russian River and the Northern Redwoods with many stops to take in the Ocean. She took a couple of final trips across the Golden Gate Bridge and spent a day at the Japanese Tea Garden and Golden Gate Park before returning to Cincinnati. The trip was fantastic, and she was happy.

Ruth was fun. She was a devoted daughter, wife, mother, friend, and grandmother. She was an artist, musician, naturalist and girl scout, mathematician, activist, and speed-queen. She was much-loved by those who knew her. Ruth is survived by her only daughter, Christina Bennett-Stamper, son in law, Trevor Stamper, and grand-children, Caitlin and Rowan Stamper as well as her kitties, Axel, Sammy and Panda. Ruth was preceded in death by her husband D. Robert Bennett, by 20 years. A private scattering of her ashes will be planned for the future.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the Arbor Day Foundation, the National Audubon Society, or the Nature Conservancy. All organizations Ruth was a lifelong member with.

May her spirit be one with the energy that is our universe and may she be free and at peace.  She will be missed.

A private scattering of her ashes will be planned for the future.

Condolence(1)

  1. REPLY
    Fiona Ritter says

    A beautiful obituary and a beautiful woman. I wish the family my best condolences and prayers.

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In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the Arbor Day Foundation, the National Audubon Society, or the Nature Conservancy. All organizations Ruth was a lifelong member with.