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Remembering Ruth B. Toff '44

Remembering Ruth B. Toff '44

Ruth B. Toff, a 69-year resident of Edgemont, died at home on Jan. 9 after several years of declining health, just two weeks before her 100th birthday.  

She was born in St. Louis in 1923, the daughter of Alvin F. Bluthenthal and the former Jeannette Kohn, and grew up in Memphis.

She graduated from Wellesley College in 1944 with special honors in economics and political science, writing her thesis on "Safeguarding the Consumer Interest in the Wartime Economy." She then returned to Memphis where she worked as research secretary for the Council of Social Agencies. After she presented a paper at the Blue Ridge Institute for Southern Community Service in 1945, she was invited to join the national office of Community Chests and Councils of America in New York. She also attended the New York School of Social Work.

In 1953 she married Ira N. Toff, then an assistant principal in the New York City public school system. They moved to Edgemont the following year and had one daughter, Nancy.

The consummate volunteer, Mrs. Toff was active in a multitude of school and community organizations. She served on the board of directors and as president of the Fort Hill Association, treasurer of the PTA, first vice president and treasurer of Wellesley-in-Westchester, chairman of the Edgemont Community Committee on Education, secretary and on the board of directors of the Greenville Community Council, vice president of the Greenburgh Nature Center, secretary of the Edgemont Scholarship Council, and member of the School Board Nominating Committee. She also volunteered in Greenville School's library and, each year during National Poetry Month, was among those who shared their favorite poems with fifth graders. Her choice was Robert Frost's "The Gift Outright."

Mrs. Toff edited Edgemont School District's newsletter for 37 years, beginning in 1969 as a volunteer and then in a paid capacity, retiring in 2006 at age 83. In later years she served on the board of the Westchester Philharmonic and was involved in Wellesley alumnae activities.

Together, Ruth and Ira Toff were awarded the Greenville Community Council's silver box for community service in 1979, the first couple so honored. The Toffs enjoyed traveling, and Ruth could often be seen helping Ira with his camera equipment. After he could no longer drive but continued working as a professional photographer, well into his 90s, she drove him to his assignments. 

Her family said Mrs. Toff was a woman of "enormous energy" who attended exercise classes and did volunteer work until she was 91. She enjoyed showing her Metropolitan Museum membership card with its notation "member since 1958," and was a subscriber to the New York Philharmonic for more than 50 years.

Known for her long reign as "Queen of Thanksgiving," Mrs. Toff assembled her extended family and friends for legendary Thanksgiving dinners, which she served under the watchful gaze of her great-grandparents' portraits, with silver and china from multiple branches of the family tree. It was a tradition she cherished, her family said.

Mrs. Toff is survived by her daughter Nancy of Manhattan.

The above obituary was run in the Scarsdale Inquirer and provided to us by Ruth's daughter Nancy Toff.

As a Wellesley alum, you can honor Ruth's memory through the Ruth B. Toff '44 Scholarship Fund