PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Ruth Robinson Saltzman, talented harpist and beloved friend and family matriarch, died March 21 in Providence. Devoted wife of the late Dr. Abraham Saltzman for over 63 years, Ruth was born in Providence as the only child of Charles and Louise Tager Robinson. Although Ruth was initially a serious piano student, she discovered her lifelong passion for the harp while attending the New England Music Camp. After graduating from Hope High School and one semester at Pembroke College, she moved to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a professional musician. Ruth was the sole female musician to travel the country with the original production of the musical “South Pacific” and played for the “Ice Capades.”
Ruth met Abe, a medical resident, in New York City in 1947; seven months later they married and over the course of eight years had four children. She is survived by her children Beth and her husband, Michael Aaronson, of Lynnfield, Massachusetts; Charles and his wife, Ingrid Nygaard, of Salt Lake City, Utah; David and his wife, Beth Barovick, of Wayland, Massachusetts; and John and his wife, Deborah Lang Saltzman, of Newton, Massachusetts.
After the untimely death of her parents in 1954, Ruth moved back to Providence to her family home where she continued her musical career. She performed for over 30 years as the principal harpist with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. As a respected teacher and soloist, Ruth was delighted to play for many decades with the outstanding flutist Donna Heiken (Golden Harp and Flute) and her dear friend and brilliant flutist John Curran. She loved performing and seeing all aspects of life celebrations through the eyes of the unseen background musicians and felt fortunate to still play “gigs” into her late 80s.
In addition to raising four children who she was happy all became gainfully employed (an architect, an attorney and two medical doctors), Ruth’s loves were simple and fulfilling: gardening, reading, spending time with her dogs, and traveling, but most of all, she adored meeting people and conversation. An immensely curious and social person, Ruth made friends wherever she went. She cared intensely about others and would associate easily with people from all ages and walks of life. She regularly invited acquaintances to come over for lunch or tea, after which they would often become devoted friends.
An only child, Ruth delighted in having a large family and cherished her time with them, especially during many family trips and the annual family vacation to Cape Cod. She reveled in the details of her grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s lives. She was grandmother to 11: Daniel (Rachel), Benjamin (Heidi), and Jonathan (Ariagne) Aaronson; Steven, Ilanna (Daniel Williams), Andrew, Hanna (Nathan Davidson), Rachel, Erik, Julia, and Jeffrey Saltzman; and great-grandmother to six: Abigail, William, Charlotte, Caroline, Aviva and Lorenzo Aaronson.
Ruth leaves behind many doting caregivers whom she loved, and with whom she became very close. Memorial contributions may be made to the Providence Animal Rescue League, the Rochambeau Library of Providence, or HopeHealth’s Hospice.