Rebecca Rutz, a Pennsylvania native, received a bachelor's degree at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Tech and a master's in social work at the University of Southern California. In the 1940s, she headed the USO Jewish Welfare Board and was sent to Tucson, where she met and married M. L. Rutz, an officer at Davis Monthan Air Force Base.
Establishing the first Anglo-Jewish publication in Tucson, the Arizona Post, was perhaps her greatest achievement, but Rutz's friends also cite her organizational work.
"Rebecca has always been my guiding light, giving me background on the societ, ideas and suggestions," said Saretta Ulrich, president pro tem of the Tucson Hearing Society.
Sylvia Schneller, vice president pro tem of the society, said, "Rebecca Rutz was the mainstay to the (Tucson Hearing Society). She instilled in us the need for advertising help for the hard of hearing."
During Rutz's 26 years on the Hearing Societ board, she pushed the society to encourage assisted hearing devices in movie houses and drama theatres.
Rutz was also instrumental in collecting used hearing aids, then having them repaired and distributed to the needy through the Community Outreach Program for the Deaf.
Harriet Sherman, who had known Rutz since 1979, said Rutz was active in Hadassah, a women's organization dealing with education and health.
Rutz, who was deeply involved in politics, was a good friend of former U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, a former Arizona governor, Sherman said.
Sherman recalls that once at a conference, Babbitt stopped in mid-speech when he spotted Rutz, walked over and gave her a hug before continuing.
"Everybody was a friend of Rebecca's," Sherman said. "She was just such a bright, bright person."
"My sister was just a very amazing person," Rutz's sister, Patricia Rosenthal, said.
At Hadassah, Rutz urged members to write letters to Congress about issues such as abortion rights, terroritst incidents, breast cancer awareness programs and osteoporosis.
And Rutz continued to speak of these issues until her death, friends said.
"She still got up at every meeting and you heard her. Everybody had a time limit except Rebecca." Sherman said.
Rutz was involved with Common Cause, Tucson Consumer Council, the Health Systems Agency of Southeastern Arizona and the Governor's Council on Aging, among other groups.