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Ruth M. Lehrman

RUTH M. LEHRMAN, February 13, 1939-February 2, 2019 

Ruth Makarova Lehrman passed away peacefully in her sleep on February 2, 2019.

Mrs. Lehrman was born in Orechovo-Zujevo, Moscow Province, USSR.  When she was a child, the family moved to the neighboring town of Drezna.  She went to Moscow as a young woman and attended the Moscow Pedagogical Institute.  Upon graduation, she became a preschool teacher, and later enrolled in the art history program at Moscow University.  It was there, while learning how to restore 16th century Russian icons, that she met Professor Edgar H. Lehrman, a visiting literature scholar from Emory University in Atlanta, GA.  After a whirlwind courtship, the two were wed in Moscow on March 28, 1963.

Almost immediately, the fragile peace between the Kennedy and Kruschev administrations fell apart, and the new husband was sent back to the US, leaving her alone, pregnant, and viewed as an enemy of the state. The USSR subjected her to a sanity hearing for wishing to leave and marrying an American. People she thought were her friends, including her own mother, testified against her. After about seven months of writing countless letters begging for her release, Professor Lehrman decided to write to Mrs. Kruschev.  She was the one who convinced her husband to release Mrs. Lehrman, who was finally permitted to emigrate.  She arrived, very pregnant and without a word of English, in the US. This was the defining moment of her life, the one from which everything else flowed.  She never regretted her choice.

After several years in Atlanta, the family, now with two young daughters, arrived in St Louis in 1967. A third daughter was born in St. Louis.  Here, Dr. Lehrman chaired the Department of Russian Language and Literature at Washington University until his death in 1986. 

Mrs. Lehrman worked for 17 years as an X-ray technologist at Barnes Hospital.  Upon her retirement, she returned to her first love:  art.  She was a gifted artist who particularly enjoyed sketching botanical subjects.  She also enthusiastically volunteered as a docent at the St. Louis Art Museum.  She particularly enjoyed teaching groups of school children to appreciate the artworks.

Additionally, she volunteered at the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center.  There, she interviewed Russian speakers about their wartime experiences and translated their testimonies.  

She is survived by her three daughters: Tanya (Jim) Fipps, of Maryland Heights, MO; Ellen Lehrman of Baltimore, MD; and Julie Lehrman of Chicago, IL as well as six grandchildren.

There will be a Memorial and casual kosher lunch at the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, 12 Millstone Campus Dr. in Creve Coeur, MO 63146, from 11:30-1pm on Wednesday, February 13, which would have been her 80th birthday. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Holocaust Museum, where she was a volunteer.