Ruth Watanabe is one of Keiro’s most dedicated board members, having served over 40 years prior to her retirement in 2017.
Ruth’s life has been one of service, to both the Japanese American community and the Southern California community at large. She served on the Board of Directors of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and was a Founding Trustee of the Japanese American National Museum. She also long supported the arts, through her work with the California Council for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum Services. Lastly, she was an active alumna of UCLA, serving on the Board of Governors of the UCLA Foundation and the UCLA Alumni Association, among many others.
Ruth noted that back in the 1960s, “there were no organizations that helped seniors of Japanese ancestry in Southern California, and I felt there was a need for Keiro in the community.” This motivated her to support Keiro, and she joined the Board of Directors, as the first female member, in the 1970s. During her tenure as a board member, Ruth chaired the Fund Development Committee for many years – supporting and often leading various campaigns, from the Keiro Retirement Home rebuilding campaign (following the Whittier earthquake) to Keiro’s 50th Anniversary celebration.
When asked about her involvement with Keiro and so many other community organizations, Ruth simply said, “I wanted to … do what I could, while I was still able to help.”