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Published: Tuesday, 3/22/2005

Business educator led school for 35 years

Ruth L. Davis, 94, president of Toledo's Davis College for 35 years, died Monday in the Elizabeth Scott Community assisted-living home in Springfield Township.

Miss Davis, who lived most of her life in Toledo, died of congestive heart failure, said Carolyn Scharer, a Davis College colleague for more than five decades who retired as executive vice president.

Miss Davis expected excellence of herself and of everyone around her, and her staff and students responded to it, Ms. Scharer said. Even after becoming the secretarial school's president in 1948 when her father suffered a stroke, she continued teaching typing and shorthand for many years.

"She was a pioneer in the business education field," Ms. Scharer said. "She cared about people, and the students knew when you cared."

Miss Davis' grandfather bought the college in 1882, a year after his family emigrated here from Canada.

She officially retired as president in 1983, to be succeed by John Lambert, but she maintained an office at the college after that. At that time, enrollment was about 400. The college, once located on Adams Street downtown, is now on Monroe Street, northwest of Secor Road.

"Up until a couple of years ago, she would come in just about every day," Ms. Scharer said.

Miss Davis found the dry air of Arizona a tonic for her asthma, so she graduated from the University of Arizona in 1941 and held a succession of educational jobs there in the following years. She returned to Toledo in 1944 at her father's behest to teach at Davis, but later went back to Arizona before returning for a second time after his stroke.

She held several Toledo Club of Zonta International offices, including president from 1948-49, and was on the boards of the local YWCA and the former Mid-American Bank, along with Davis' board. Zonta is a service organization that promotes the professional advancement of women.

In 1987, the International Institute of Greater Toledo gave her its Distinguished Citizenship Award, and in 2001, she was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame.

In younger years, Miss Davis enjoyed numerous sports, and played bridge.

She leaves no survivors.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Foth-Dorfmeyer Mortuary, 3815 West Sylvania Ave., followed by memorial services at 11 a.m. Thursday in Epworth United Methodist Church.

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