DURHAM Ruth Seifert Phelps, born October 26, 1920, departed from her devoted family peacefully at home in Durham on Saturday, October 20, 2012.
"Oma" to her six grandchildren and "Maedi" to her husband of 65 years, Ruth grew up in Pittsburgh, the only daughter of Max and Lillian Seifert. She majored in organ and public school music at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh and then earned a diploma in organ and piano at the Juilliard School of Music. She also earned a Masters in German from Middlebury College, where she met her husband Leland Richter Phelps. They raised three bilingual daughters in Evanston, Illinois, and in Durham, North Carolina, where Ruth was the church organist at Duke Memorial Methodist Church for many years. She also taught German at Elon College and piano at Duke University. Throughout her life she worked to increase people's enjoyment of classical music by performing concerts and giving talks and demonstrations on musical subjects such as folk dancing, music history, and composers. Ruth was deeply touched by the beauty of nature she saw everywhere in mountains and landscapes, plants and flowers, and her passion found expression in the creating of hundreds of watercolor paintings. Her husband Leland, her three daughters and their families, Christine Phelps of Greensboro, NC, Karin Phelps Murray of Jamestown, RI, and Linda Phelps Pate of Sanford, NC, and all whose lives she touched will remember her life with gratitude and appreciation for the beauty she saw in the world around her and shared with all of us.
At Ruth's request, instead of a memorial service the family is planning a chamber music concert in her honor. Details will be communicated at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests consideration for making a contribution in her name to the Chamber Arts Society at Duke (Duke Performances, Box 90757, Durham, NC 27708) or to The Forest At Duke Benevolent Fund (The Forest At Duke, 2701 Pickett Road, Durham, NC 27705).
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