Ira Ruskin, former assemblyman, dies at 70 | July 11, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Community Pulse - July 11, 2014

Ira Ruskin, former assemblyman, dies at 70

Former state Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, who represented Palo Alto for six years, died on July 3 following complications from a brain tumor, according to his family. He was 70 years old.

The Democrat from Redwood City told his supporters in a May 2011 email that he had undergone emergency surgery for a malignant brain tumor earlier that month and that he was preparing to undergo "aggressive treatment," including radiation and chemotherapy, the Weekly reported at the time.

He said that his doctors told him the tumor, while not curable, was containable. The illness halted his bid for a state Senate seat.

Ruskin was a member of the Committee for Green Foothills. He served nine years as a city councilman in Redwood City starting in 1995 and was mayor from 1999 through 2001. He was elected to the State Assembly in 2004, when he defeated Republican Steve Poizner to succeed Joe Simitian, a former Palo Alto mayor representing the 21st District.

Ruskin was re-elected twice before being termed out in 2010. He was succeeded by fellow Democrat Rich Gordon.

As a Redwood City councilman, he worked with Palo Alto officials to advocate for the creation of the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, an organization of cities that use Hetch Hetchy water, which was controlled by San Francisco. It took three bills to get it passed in the Legislature, and Ruskin became its founding chairman, according to the Weekly's past coverage.

Ruskin championed an environmental bill to safeguard the state through toxic-substances reporting. He introduced a bill that funded the successful Parolee Reentry Program in East Palo Alto, which helped more than 100 persons change their lives, according to his Assembly record.

In 2009, he attempted to get a bill passed that would have given new authority to the California Coastal Commission to impose penalties for violations of the Coastal Act.

He served on the Budget, Business and Professions, Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials and Higher Education committees of the California General Assembly, among others. His work on the Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials committee included legislation to improve water and air quality, including greenhouse-gas-emission reduction and alternative-fuels vehicles, according to his Assembly biography.

Ruskin had planned to run for Simitian's seat in the state Senate in 2012.

"Given the treatment ahead, I am withdrawing from all political activity at this time in order to focus on my recovery and to be with my wife, Cheryl, friends, and family," he said in a statement after announcing his illness.

Gordon praised Ruskin's service in the Assembly after the 2011 announcement of his illness. He said he has been "impressed by the deep respect that so many in Sacramento have for Ira."

Ruskin "obviously did an outstanding job in the State Assembly," he said.

Ruskin is survived by his wife, Cheryl Perman. He received a bachelor's degree in history from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1968 and a master's in communications from Stanford University in 1983, according to his Assembly biography.

Funeral services were held on July 9 at Temple Beth Jacob in Redwood City. Graveside services followed at Alta Mesas Cemetery in Palo Alto.

Lynn Morin

Lynn Bartha Morin, a Palo Alto resident for almost 30 years, died on June 19 after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for a number of years. She was 91.

She was born Nov. 14, 1922, in New Jersey and was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1941, she married George Morin, with whom she had eight children. When she was 35, the family moved to Phoenix, Arizona.

Soon after her husband died in 1978, she moved to Palo Alto to be closer to her daughters and grandchildren. While here, she worked part-time for two local shoe stores.

In addition to spending time with her grandchildren, she enjoyed playing Scrabble, doing crossword puzzles and baking — including making Hungarian poppy seed rolls, which are loved by the family. Later in life she ran the Bay to Breakers road race in San Francisco twice.

She was predeceased by her husband, George; sons, Terrence and Dennis Morin; and her sisters Emma Rawnsley and Helen Rosol. She is survived by six children: daughter Tricia (Timothy) Wright of Menlo Park; daughter Michele (Michael) Magana of Surprise, Arizona; daughter Maureen (Duke) Nelson of Saratoga; daughter Mary Kay (Doug) Burns of San Jose; son Joseph (Wendy) Morin of Phoenix, Arizona; and son John Morin of Palo Alto. She is also survived by her sisters, Violet Recktosh and Gail Abersold, both of Pittsburgh; 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on July 12, 2014, at 11 a.m. at St. Denis Church, 2250 Avy Ave., Menlo Park. Memorial donations can be made to the Alzheimer's Association of Santa Clara County.

Palo Alto Weekly staff


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