LUCAS, RUTH TOWNSEND (3 Jan. 1903 - 3 Sept. 1996) was a founder and director of the Central Volunteer Bureau of the Welfare Federation of Cleveland and a nationally recognized developer of volunteer programs. Born in Cleveland and raised in Lakewood, the daughter of Pitt Townsend and Evalina "Mattie" Curtiss attended Hathaway Brown. After graduating with a degree in psychology from Smith College in 1925, she worked for the CUYAHOGA COUNTY JUVENILE COURT as a psychologist, and in the mothers' pension department of the Dependent Children's Services as a caseworker. From 1929-31 she was president of the JUNIOR LEAGUE OF CLEVELAND, then regional director for junior leagues in Ohio, Michigan, and West Virginia from 1931-33. In 1933 she helped found the Central Volunteer Bureau, and before becoming director of the Bureau in 1940, she was director of volunteers at ST. LUKE'S HOSPITAL, chairwoman of the Sunbeam Shop of VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE SERVICES, and president of the boards of the FAMILY SERVICE ASSN., the Youth Bureau of Cleveland, and the Cleveland Rehabilitation Center. Mrs. Lucas led the enrollment of 100,000 volunteers to serve on draft and ration boards and handle civil defense posts during WWII, earning her a reputation as the city's top recruiter of volunteers. As director of the Central Volunteer Bureau from 1940 to 1970, Mrs. Lucas coordinated volunteer efforts with 300 agencies and over 6,000 unpaid workers, linking donated goods and services with needy individuals, hospitals, youth groups, and social service programs. Elected as the first chairwoman of the National Association of Volunteer Bureaus of America in 1950, she also served on the board of the National Social Welfare Association and on the Advisory Committee of the Community Chests of America. Mrs. Lucas received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Award of the Community Chest in 1956, but she avoided the spotlight and her motto was "There's no pay but the rewards are great."

She married John S. Lucas in 1928 and the couple divorced in 1940. They had two children: Ann and John. Mrs. Lucas died at her home in SHAKER HEIGHTS, where she had lived since 1930.


Article Categories