James R. ‘Jim’ Ruth, 75, LNP entertainment editor, EPAC board member, avid volunteer

By on October 7, 2015

James R. “Jim” Ruth, 75, of Lancaster, died unexpectedly Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015.

He was born April 8, 1940, at home in Manheim Township to Samuel Elmer and Julia Weina Ruth. He was the youngest of eight children: Harold (deceased), Donald, Salunga, Grace Stoudt (deceased), Arlene Aukamp (deceased), Thelma Shirk, Audrey Long, and Shirley Hornberger, all of Lancaster.

He was formerly married to Patricia Banzhof-Spangler. He is also survived by their daughter: Karen Lynn Dobosh of Elizabethtown; his son: Gary D. Spangler of Willow Street; and four grandchildren: Taylor and Justin Dobosh, Elaine and Emily Spangler; and one great grandchild, Sadie Worall.

Jim graduated in 1958 from Lampeter-Strasburg High School where acting in high school theater whetted a lifelong affection for and involvement in theater and working on the school newspaper and yearbook foreshadowed his eventual 40-year career as a professional journalist with the Sunday News in Lancaster.

There he served as editor of the former TV Week magazine, feature writer, wire editor, arts journalist, columnist, longtime reviewing member of the American Theater Critics Association, and entertainment editor, winning Keystone state writing awards for Feature Series (on the state of downtown Lancaster), Feature Writing, and Sports Feature. Over the course of his newspaper career, he became noted for his candid interviews with scores of stars and celebrities as well as his review of theater on all levels, from college to community to regional to Broadway.

He also was assistant director and associate librettist for “The War on Drugs,” a musical street theater production in Lancaster Square that made headlines for death threats against its producers in 1990.

Upon retiring in 2006, he became a producing member of the Ephrata Performing Arts Center board of directors, which he also served in marketing and promotion.

He also intensified a longtime dedication to volunteer service which included the former Lancaster AIDS Project, Hospice of Lancaster County, Lancaster General Hospital (ER), and the Lancaster County Democratic Committee. In 2008, he served as a steering committee member and chairman of entertainment for the first-ever Lancaster Pride festival attended by more than 2,000 people in Buchanan Park.

A celebration of Jim’s life will be held at the Ephrata Performing Arts Center, 320 Cocalico St., Oct. 18 at 1 p.m., followed by a reception where memories and stories will be shared amongst those that knew and loved Jim. Please follow on Jim’s Facebook page. A private service and interment will take place at the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in Jim’s name may be sent to Hospice and Community Care, 685 Good Drive, P.O. Box 4125, Lancaster, PA 17604-4125; or Ephrata Performing Arts Center, 320 Cocalico St., Ephrata, PA 17522.

Online condolences may be posted to thegroffs.com. The Groffs Family Funeral and Cremation Services, Lancaster, handled the arrangements.

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