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Farewell to Ruberta Weaver

Last updated 06/16/2023


Ruberta Weaver passed away peacefully in her home on March 29, 2023.  She was 106 years old.  The blessing of her life was that she lived a long, productive, independent and happy life of service to the end without illness or compromise.  She is survived by her sons Andy (Roly) of Austin, Texas and Tom (Karen) of Columbia, Missouri; Granddaughters Cynthia Weaver Henzl (Lance) of Ft. Worth, Texas and Carrie Weaver of Columbia, Missouri; Great Grandchildren John and James Henzl and Hannah and Elijah Weaver. She was preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, John C. Weaver (1915-1995).

How to capture a life of 106 years?  Her life began when radio was a novelty, and she watched electricity become commonplace, then telephones, air travel, television and the internet.  Her life spanned the Spanish Flu epidemic, World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, moon exploration and even COVID.  But none of that defined her. 

She was born in Berkeley, California and grew up a lover of the natural world as the daughter of the Park Naturalist of Yosemite, an Audubon lecturer who could whistle the birds out of the trees.  She lived in Yosemite for a time and was proud that she and the National Park Service were both born in 1916.  The unique spelling of her name is a combination of her parents’ names Ruby and Albert. But education … public education … became the guiding theme of her life.  She intended to be a teacher, so she attended the University of California, graduating in 1938.  She then received a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1939, where she studied under her future father-in-law and met John Weaver, a PhD student and future life partner.  John was an academic superstar who became a professor, dean and university president (Missouri and Wisconsin).  Part of his professional success, he freely admitted, came from Ruberta as his Ambassador and General Superintendent.

While education was a primary theme of their joint journey, volunteer service was Ruberta’s passion.  After serving as President and First Lady of two universities, John and Ruberta retired to Palos Verdes in 1977. John returned to teaching at USC, and Ruberta continued her active life after “retirement”.  From teaching English to wives of international students, to raising money for scholarships as president and a leader of Town & Gown and the P.E.O. Sisterhood, to the Hospital Guild, to supporting widows of retired faculty members, she was always dedicated to making others’ experiences more complete.  She also served the Salvation Army and received their prestigious “Others” award in 2004.  Recognizing her service on charitable boards, committees and church organizations, Peninsula People magazine reported that she is known locally as “Saint Ruberta!”  Ruberta laughed about that and wrote, “You’ll never believe this — but it’s in print!” The Salvation Army presented its highest civilian honor to Ruberta.  Their description of her encapsulates Ruberta’s life perfectly:  “She’s been called Chairman, President, Good Shepherd, Leader, World Traveler, Lecturer, Storyteller, and even Saint, but those who call her simply Ruberta probably know her best. 

Charming, approachable and caring, Ruberta Harwell Weaver makes friends and fans wherever she goes.  She supports good causes, works tirelessly for education, and is a vital force in the community.  She’s informed and well-read, computer savvy, energetic and interested in everything that’s going on.  She’s eminently modern … a citizen of today, but with the humility and graciousness of yesterday.”   In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the John C. Weaver Faculty Fellowship (407 Reynolds Alumni Center, University of Missouri, Columbia MO 65211) or the Ruberta H. Weaver Scholarship at Town and Gown of USC (Kari May,620 W. McCarthy Way, #10, Los Angeles, CA 90089)