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Published: Monday, 8/11/2003

UT professor was activist for blind

Dr. Ruth C. Lindecker, a professor emerita at the University of Toledo and well-known advocate for the blind, died Saturday of an aneurysm at St. Anne Mercy Hospital. She was 83.

Dr. Lindecker grew up in the area and graduated from the former Mary Manse College. As a young woman, she taught music at public schools in Ohio and Michigan for seven years. While she was teaching, she received a master's degree in music education from the University of Michigan.

When her eyesight began to fail, Dr. Lindecker temporarily gave up teaching. She did office work at Broer-Freeman Jewelers, and then wrote advertisements for the Lion Store.

Dr. Lindecker became completely blind in the 1970s, losing her sight because of a hereditary illness called retinitis pigmentosa.

She returned to school, taking classes at the University of Toledo in special education. She started teaching at the university in 1975.

“She was most interested in helping people with disabilities because of her disability,” her niece, Colleen Humphrey, said. “It meant a lot to her to help people learn.”

Dr. Lindecker taught special education at UT for 15 years. She earned her doctoral degree in 1981 and retired as an associate professor in 1990.

She served with many organizations devoted to helping the blind. As vice president of public information for the local affiliate of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, she wrote the group's newsletters.

She was on the board of trustees and the executive committee for the Sight Center in Toledo, and did an interview radio program on the Sight Center Audio Network.

In her retirement, Dr. Lindecker spoke about being blind at many organizations, including schools. Children loved meeting her guide dogs. Her first dog, Samson, received “Leader Dog Emeritus” status from UT.

Dr. Lindecker loved music. She played the cello for two years with the Toledo Symphony in the 1940s, and continued playing for her own enjoyment for many years.

“She had an amazing variety of friends,” her niece said. “She was articulate, very thoughtful, and always open to new ideas.”

Surviving is her sister, Constance Tighe.

The family suggests tributes to Leader Dogs for the Blind or the Sight Center.

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