RUTH COLBY AUTOGRAPH


Longtime Inverness resident Ruth Hunter Colby, an environmentalist who fought to preserve community access to Chicken Ranch Beach, died Saturday, Nov. 1, in Walnut Creek, where she had lived for the past year. She was 98. An Inverness weekender since the 1930s, Mrs. Colby was enthralled with West Marin’s raw beauty. She impressed family and friends with her knowledge of wildflowers, birds, and her keen eye for the patterns of breaking ocean waves. Spirit was outdoors “The essence of her spirit was outdoors with the wild critters and the natural world,” said her nephew, Tom Hunter. “In her later years, with legs and feet that didn’t work and in a wheelchair,” added her nephew, she would still say, “‘let’s go.’” West Marin photographer Philip Greene, who befriended Mrs. Colby in her last years, marveled at her encyclopedic knowledge of the region’s flora and fauna. In spring she accurately predicted where patches of bog lupine would come into sight as they drove along the road, he said. Born on Long Island, New York, on June 29, 1905, the oldest of three, Ruth Hunter graduated from Smith College in 1926. On a trip to California the following year she met her future husband, Henry Vrooman Colby, a young Harvard Law School graduate, whose father had founded the well-known high Sierra trekking trips. Family historian A family historian and enthusiastic storyteller, she enjoyed describing her honeymoon aboard a transcontinental railroad train traveling from New York to San Francisco with her groom and his law school friends as they studied for the California State Bar exam. Weekends in Inverness The couple settled in Berkeley and spent weekends in Inverness where her husband’s parents had been visiting since the early 1900s. Among her friends were philanthropist Louise Davies, and photographer Ansel Adams and his wife, Virginia Adams. At a dinner with Mrs. Adams after her husband’s death, she told a story of confiding to Mr. Adams she felt she didn’t fit in with his artist friends, her grandson Michael Brown told The Light. Ansel Adams is said to have replied, “But Ruth, you are the most important. You are the audience.” A pianist, Mrs. Colby loved music of all kinds. In Inverness she instigated impromptu family concerts, leading the crowd in lively camp songs such as, “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain,” her nephew recalled. Gracious hostess A gracious hostess, Mrs. Colby had a knack for making those who visited her home feel welcome and comfortable. She was a member of numerous organizations including the Inverness Garden Club, and Berkeley’s Town and Gown Club. Her husband, Henry Colby, died in 1998. Original Ruth Colby Autograph, signed on Fly Leaf. Approx. size 3 3/4 x 6 5/8 inches. Original Price – $ 55.00 / Sale Price – $ 24.95.

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