Deaths | November 18, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Community Pulse - November 18, 2011


Palo Alto icon Ruth Spangenberg dies

Ruth Beahrs Spangenberg, 92, co-founder of the Committee for Green Foothills and a longtime contributor to the Palo Alto school system, died Oct. 30, 2011.

Born Ruth Fay Beahrs on Nov. 17, 1918, in Eufaula, Ala., she grew up in Pomona, Calif. After graduating from Pomona College in 1940 she taught high school math, history and psychology in Ontario, Calif.

While studying for a master's degree at Stanford University, she met Karl R. Spangenberg, a professor of electrical engineering. They were married the first day of spring, March 21, 1943, and started their lives together in Palo Alto.

Her husband died in 1964. Spangenberg Theater in Palo Alto was named after him in appreciation of his service to the Palo Alto Schools. Ruth Spangenberg, widowed with six children, returned to Stanford University and earned her master's degree in counseling and guidance in 1965. Considering "education a great leveler," she taught in the San Mateo Community College district for 25 years, first at San Mateo Community College and then four years later at the newly opened Canada College as an educator and counselor. In addition she set up a private practice as a marriage and family therapist and was a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family counselors.

She joined the advisory board of the Stanford Learning House from 1960-1979 and served as a board member of the Mid-Peninsula Family Agency from 1962-1978. She was a co-founder of the Committee for Green Foothills, which began in the Spangenberg living room in 1962. She served as a board member of the Stanford Y.W.C.A. and chaired the building fundraising committee for the Mid-Peninsula Y.W.C.A. In 1985 she joined the Board of Regents of John F. Kennedy University and served for 20 years, chairing the fundraising campaign for a permanent campus in Pleasant Hill, where the atrium is named in her honor. In 1997 her community service was recognized with the Avenidas "Lifetimes of Achievement" Award.

She was much loved by those who knew her, and she will be greatly missed, loved ones said.

She is survived by her brother, John V. Beahrs; children, Kristin L. Spangenberg, Eric Karl Spangenberg, Karen Spangenberg, Karla Lane, Kathy Spangenberg and Rudy Spangenberg; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Jan. 21, 2012, at the First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto, 625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto. The family requests that memorial contributions be made to Committee for Green Foothills, 3921 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto CA 94303 (; California Pops Orchestra, 3790 El Camino Real, Mail Suite 341, Palo Alto, CA 94306 (; or Jacqueline Kennedy Endowed Scholarship at John F. Kennedy University, 100 Ellinwood Way, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523-4817 (


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