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Published: Wednesday, 5/4/2011

Ruth Ellen Taylor Oatis, 1922-2011: Activist honored by YWCA


Ruth Ellen Taylor Oatis, 88, an advocate for equal rights and a dedicated community activist, died April 12 at her home on Amelia Island, Fla.

Mrs. Oatis, who grew up in Ottawa Hills, lived for many years on Holloway Road in Springfield Township. In recent years, she split her time between her homes in Florida and Ohio. The cause of death was not available Tuesday night.

A longtime volunteer for a variety of organizations, Mrs. Oatis launched her outreach efforts after a stint stuffing envelopes for the Republican Party and doing fund-raising work for the United Way of Greater Toledo.

Inspired by its mission to eliminate racism and empower women, she dedicated herself to the local and national boards of the YWCA, and in 2008, the YWCA honored her with the local chapter's first Woman of Distinction award. Described as a visionary leader, she was a former director of the YWCA of Greater Toledo and its national board.

In addition, Mrs. Oatis volunteered with the Toledo Museum of Art and served on the boards of directors for the Boys and Girls Club and the Regional Youth Services Board.

She was a golf champion at Sylvania Country Club.

"She was always active, especially her mind. She was vibrant, joyful. She was a contemporary woman. I think of her as a seeker and a searcher. She was always learning, always growing. … She lived her convictions. She was bold and fearless," her friend Barbara Eikost said.

Mrs. Oatis will be remembered for her "evolution as a woman of substance," said Mrs. Eikost, who met Mrs. Oatis in the 1970s when the women were involved with a YWCA project. "I was bowled over by her insights. She practiced what she preached. She was a real social-justice person.."

Mrs. Oatis was raised in a home just down the gravel road from the home of Dick Oatis, whom she married after World War II. He died in 2002.

She is survived by her son, Ted, daughter, Pam, and brother, Richard.

A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in Trinity Episcopal Church in Toledo. Tributes can be made to the Episcopal Relief Fund.

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