Ruth McCullough Wismar was born October 30, 1915 on a farm in southern Ohio and grew up in small towns in Athens and Meigs Counties, the third of four children. Raised in a schoolteacher’s family, education was a value she held throughout her life. Ruth financed her college career at Ohio University with scholarships, government loans and part-time jobs, including catering, clerical, retail and lab work. She graduated in 1937, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing brought her to Cleveland where she would spend the rest of her life. She obtained a bachelor of nursing in 1937 and worked as an Instructor with Cleveland Visiting Nurse’s Association, also receiving certification in Public Health Nursing through University Nursing District.
In 1942 Ruth entered the Army Nurse Corps with the Lakeside Unit, 4th General Hospital, for service in Australia and New Guinea, where she worked on surgical, psychiatric, medical and orthopedic floors, and later at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC.
In 1946 she returned to the VNA as instructor and Assistant Supervisor and in 1947 was selected from among 300 nominees as “Cleveland’s Ideal Nurse” by the Cleveland Press.
On July 23, 1949 Ruth married Albert D. Wismar, and took leave from active nursing for 20 years to raise six children, during which time she served volunteer offices in school parent organizations, YMCA, YWCA, and at Epworth-Euclid Church.
She returned to nursing in Gerontology in 1969, first as an in-service instructor at Margaret Wagner House, 1969-71, then at Hamlet Retirement Community, 1973-74, and Judson Retirement Community, 1975-84.
At age 56, Ruth returned to CWRU to obtain a Master of Science in Nursing Degree, at that time joining four of her children on college campuses.
At Judson Park she established an innovative program of health maintenance among senior residents in independent living, a program since adopted by numerous other retirement communities, designed to prolong the time residents can live well outside of skilled nursing care.
Retiring from nursing in 1984, Ruth continued to serve as a resource and consultant on gerontology, Alzheimer’s Disease and health maintenance issues, well into her eighties, voluntarily instructing medical and nursing students, police cadets, civic organizations, and children in grade school. She was a speaker for the Alzheimers Association and a frequent subject for research studies conducted by CWRU and the University Alzheimers Center.
At ages 88 and 89 Ruth’s World War II photography was featured in a local Veteran’s Day display which landed her picture on the CNN.com main news website, and her expertise in issues of living well in later life has been the subject of recent feature articles and news stories in Northern Ohio Live magazine and on WKYC Channel 3 News. Active in leadership and teaching at Epworth-Euclid United Methodist Church from her arrival in Cleveland in 1937 until her death, Ruth authored and implemented a “Shepherd” program of visitation for the homebound members of the church.
Preceded in death by her husband, Albert in 1998, surviving her are daughters, Barbara Bellamy, Kent, Ohio, Carol Carpenter (Tim) of Morrisville, PA, The Rev. Judy Wismar Claycomb (Michael) of Medina, OH, Gretchen Wismar Ludwig (Cliff) of Saratoga, California; sons, Daniel Wismar (Cindy) of Wadsworth, OH and Stephen Wismar of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, 12 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.