Ruth Fernandez-Herlihy


Ruth Fernandez-Herlihy of Bedford died peacefully on May 26, 2017, at the age of 92 after falling during a morning walk with her husband Luis (Lu) and failing to recover from surgery.

          "Ruthie" was born in Wareham, Mass., to Harlene Kane, a teacher known for her Irish wit, and Raymond D. Stillman, a country doctor who delivered many babies inWarehamand became the first chief of medicine at TobeyHospital. She grew up in a big house onMain Street, spending a happy childhood skating on frozen cranberry bogs and sailing competitively with her adored sisters Chris (Kolstad) and Rae (Weber). After graduating fromBatesCollegeand MGH School of Nursing, she and Lu raised a family of five daughters inWest Newton. Ruth was a Brownie troop leader, chaired the Newton Charter Commission through the League of Women Voters, volunteered with Friends of Newton Library, worked in the science department atNewtonNorthHigh School, was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, and was a member of the Newton Reading Club. 

          Athletic, beautiful, and strong, Ruthie is especially remembered for her life-long courage, kindness, and innate sense of justice. Among countless examples, there was the day in elementary school when she came upon a group of children encircling and taunting a classmate because of her religious faith. Ruthie marched over and took the girl's hand, leading her away and daring anyone to challenge her. 

          She leaves Lu, her beloved husband of 68 years, daughters Chrissy (Rodrigo Carvajal), Sarah (Brian Wiseman), Katie (Mark Donovan), Betsy (George Sugai), and Martha (Dan Clune); 10 grandchildren (Luisa, Peter, Sarah, Nat, Eliza, Alex, Maggie,  Kiyoshi, Danny, and Reiko); and 5 great-grandchildren (June, Billy, Tom, Greta, and Anna). Ruthie and Lu had an extraordinary marriage full of love for each other, their families, and their community. They enjoyed many mutual interests such as travel, books, and family gatherings. Some of their happiest days were spent inChatham sailing, walking, reading, and birding.

          Memorial services have not yet been determined. In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation in Ruth's name to the Trustees of the Newton Free Library. Mail to:NewtonFree Library, Development Office,330 Homer Street,Newton,MA02459