Affectionately known as “Dr. Ruth,” she received her B.A. from Brooklyn College-City University of New York, her M.A. from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from New York University. Dr. Mondschein was an author, producer, playwright, actress, speaker and teacher.
She served on the board of directors of Very Special Arts Arizona, America Israel Friendship League, University of Arizona College of Fine Arts Medici Circle and Steele Memorial Children’s Research Center. She was elected as a professional member into the Society for Southwestern Authors in recognition of her book, “The Magic in You.” With Jim Click, she created Linkages, a program to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities. She produced and directed special programs for Raytheon featuring talented children and youth at their yearly signature event, “Support a Park.” The YMCA of Southern Arizona honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Before coming to Tucson, Dr. Mondschein was the director of special projects for the U.S. Department of Education, working with the President’s Committee on Employment of the Disabled and Very Special Arts International in Washington, D.C. She produced a bicentennial celebration at the Kennedy Center featuring artists with disabilities such as Itzak Perlman, Ray Charles and Burl Ives, which culminated in a festival of the arts for children of Latin America at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.
Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan honored Dr. Mondschein at a White House ceremony with a Presidential Medal in recognition of her pioneering work in the arts for children and youth with disabilities in the United States, Latin America and Israel.
She spent seven years traveling across Latin America initiating programs in music, dance and art, with the support of various First Ladies. She spent two years in Israel planning, organizing and directing a third year academic exchange for students from American universities to study, travel and complete special projects at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The Heritage Foundation gave her its Federal Woman’s award as the outstanding woman in the U.S. government.
Among her many accomplishments, she persuaded the secretary general of the Organization of American States housed in Washington D.C., representing the countries of Latin America, Canada, the United States and the Caribbean, to pass legislation in each country regarding disabled citizens. At Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the only university in the world for the deaf, she initiated the Gallaudet Dance Company, today acclaimed as a top company throughout the world for their artistry.
On a special assignment from the U.S. Department of Education, Dr. Mondschein devoted 10 years to the National Council of La Raza, creating programs that touched the lives of thousands of Hispanic children and youth throughout the United States and Latin America.
Dr. Mondschein was predeceased by her daughter Joan Mondschein. Survivors include her daughter Paula Mondschein of Tucson.
Graveside services were held in the Temple Emanu-El section of Evergreen Cemetery with Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon officiating. A Celebration of Life is planned in the fall at her favorite restaurant, The Five Palms.