UWW's Ruth Hooke, 85, honored for leadership/activism

Thursday, February 28, 2013

We are honored to announce that on March 14 85 year old retired UMass Amherst faculty member Ruth Hooke received a Standing on her Shoulders Award from the Women's Fund of Massachusetts for her decades of leadership and activism. Here is an excerpt from a February 19 Daily Hampshire Gazette article about Ruth and other awardees written by Tom Relihan. Photo above by Kevin Gutting. 

"By the time they reach 85, most people are well into enjoying their retirement, basking in the glow of the golden years.

That is, unless you’re Ruth Hooke of Amherst. As a member of the Raging Grannies, an international activist group composed of older women, she spends her days promoting peace and justice, prisoner rights and raising support for various political causes.

Just last week, Hooke attended a party for the anti-nuclear group Shut It Down, where she sang songs to celebrate the repayment of the group’s court fines, which resulted from a protest they held against the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vt.

For the past 70 years, Hooke has been active in confronting the issues that she feels strongly about, from domestic violence to educational opportunities to reproductive and civil rights.

On March 14, she and six other Hampshire County women will receive the first-ever Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts Standing on Her Shoulders Award for confronting those issues head-on. A total of 16 women from Hampshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Berkshire counties, will be honored by the Easthampton organization.

'This region is filled with some of the most interesting stories of women’s achievements that we don’t know about,' said Women’s Fund CEO Carla Oleska. 'If we can get people to get elder women to tell their stories, we will be amazed. If we don’t recognize them, these stories will be lost.'

Each of the recipients was nominated by community members across western Massachusetts, and each has a unique and interesting background.

'I was surprised and pleased,' Hooke said of being nominated for the award. 'It’s wonderful that they’re honoring older women and their contributions. A lot of people view them as just sitting in rocking chairs,' she said.

Among other causes, Hooke has advocated for a range of issues in the Massachusetts Legislature as a member of the group Fund Our Communities, Not War."

Ruth Hooke talking with current UWW faculty member Liz Brinkerhoff. Liz was herself a UWW student and Ruth Hooke was her advisor.