Ruth Simpson, author and gay rights activist since the 1960's, died May 8 in Woodstock, New York. After several years of, as she said, "sampling an assortment of illnesses on the palette of old age," she finally succumbed to her breathing difficulties at the age of 82.
Ruth is the daughter of Ethel and Edward Simpson, two prominent leaders of the early labor union in Cleveland, Ohio. A veteran of rallies and strike violence by the age of 12, she earned her place in GLBT history by heading the New York chapter of Daughters of Bilitis, founding the country's first lesbian community center and facing down the New York policemen who tried to close it.
She authored From the Closet to the Courts, a first-hand account of lesbian life and activism as it relates to family, the courts, law enforcement, psychiatry, and the workplace that was heralded in reviews as "the most mature, honest and courageous description...of what it means to be a lesbian."
Simpson and her life partner of 37 years, Ellen Povill, moved from NYC to Woodstock, NY in 1976. There, she served on the Woodstock Library Board for more than 25 years, 10 as Board President. She has produced her very popular weekly local access political talk show "Minority Report" since 1982, and was also active in town politics. Ruth died shortly after midnight on May 8, 2008.
The funeral service will be held on Friday, May 16th at 2:00pm at the Lasher Funeral Home at 100 Tinker Street in Woodstock, NY, followed by a reception at the Woodstock Public Library at 5 Library Lane.