Ruth Kurzweil, of Kew Gardens, died on April 28, 2009 at age 98. She was born Ruth Strizower in Biala Bilitz, Poland on April 8, 1911. At age three, she moved with her family to Vienna where - having no patience for school - she played hooky much of the time, taking walks in the surrounding hills, feeding the squirrels. Though her teacher asserted she had no talent for design, Ruth left school at age 14 to learn the trade of dressmaking and started earning money to support the family: her father Moses, a prominent member of the orthodox synagogue; her mother Martha, a talented coloratura soprano who performed in opera houses throughout Europe; and her sister Else, the studious one who stayed in school until she became a physician. By age 17, Ruth received a master of design and dressmaking.
Ruth met her true love, Robert, at age 18. She lived much of the rest of her life in Kew Gardens. Her first son, Len, was born in 1942, her second son, Peter, in 1945. In 1948, Robert left the family. With no money, but with the support of her sister and parents, Ruth slowly recovered from her deep loss and went to work in the garment center where she worked for the next 40 years. Once her talents were recognized, she spent the remainder of her career as a patternmaker in high-end women’s fashion houses.