Updated on 7/16/2012 4:01:51 PM.
Dr. Ruth Roberts, the Training Coordinator of the University of Tennessee Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities for the last nine years, passed away on July 12, 2012, after a year-long fight with cancer. Ruth was Vice Chair of the Community Advisory Council of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and was a member of the Planning Committee of Tennessee Adults Brothers and Sisters (TABS) network.
Ruth joined the Boling Center on February 24, 2003, presided over marked growth in the Center's training program, and was a leader on many local and statewide community service boards. Ruth dedicated herself to developing, producing, and annually improving a top-notch interdisciplinary training program. She initiated the Family Mentorship Program at the Boling Center and was one of the lead authors in the AUCD publication Promising Practices in Family Mentorship: A Guidebook for MCHB - LEND Programs . This Guidebook is a current resource to LEND programs across the nation.
Anyone who knew Ruth learned very quickly that her passion was the importance of siblings in the life of people with disabilities. Ruth brought her special perspective as the sibling of a person with a disability to Boling Center programs but also to research efforts highlighting the role of siblings. The sibling perspective is sometimes lost when we think of families and disability. Ruth was an advocate, for herself as a sibling, her sister, and all people with disabilities. She gently but persistently reminded us all about the importance of seeing disability across the lifespan, a reminder sometimes needed for those with a pediatric background.
Her love was The Arc Tennessee, the advocacy organization devoted to serving those in the state with disabilities and their families. Ruth served on the Executive Board for The Arc from 2006-2010 and was President of the Board from 2008-2010. During that time, Ruth was recognized for her advocacy and volunteer efforts by receiving the Janet Clark Memorial Award, which is given to an outstanding volunteer who has worked statewide. She was especially proud of her work with the Human Rights Committee of West Tennessee, which allowed her to advocate for individuals and their enriched lives in the community.
Her friends and colleagues will miss Ruth and her special insights. Her commitment to quality training, always drawing on the essential input from people with disabilities and their families, will remain with all of us.
Written by Dr. Fred Palmer
Director, Boling Center
Read Ruth's obituary here and learn how to make a donation to the American Cancer Society in her honor.
Sad news for the network. Our sympathies go out to her family, colleagues, and all the trainees and families with whom she has worked over the years.
Jan Rosemergy can answer your media-related questions or help connect you to one of our science or disability professionals.
Help the VKC improve its web site by completing a short survey. Your feedback is important to us!