Our Aunt Ruth could conjure superheroes on restaurant napkins and look at Snapple caps and see bathroom tiling. She never failed to enchant us with the adventures of her mighty schnauzer Schnickelfritz or the lovely Lucy Sweetpea. She would enlist us to paint the sticks in her backyard for her home décor, plaster piñatas for birthdays, and lead us through the Rhinestone Cowboy house at the Art Center as many times as we wanted. She gave us an incredible example of living a life of purpose and passion. She inspired us, nurtured us, taught us and loved us in a way that, like Ruth herself, was wholly unique. Ruth created a world full of magic, beauty and wonder, one that we will continue to foster in her honor.
Laura, Rachel and David
Steve, Mark and Nina
Ashley, Greg, Lily, Hannah, Mara, Sam, Lena, Jack, Rachel, Tait and Leo
Ophelia, Herbert and Uma
Ruth DeYoung Kohler II will be fondly admired as a tireless champion of under-recognized artists and art forms, and for most of her career, served as Director of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Ruth died Saturday, November 14, 2020 at her home in Kohler, Wisconsin, at the age of 79.
Ruth was deeply committed to breaking down hierarchies within the mainstream arts world to engage with overlooked art forms and communities with limited access to arts experiences. Ruth fully took up the Arts Center’s motto of “All the arts for all the people,” centering programming and exhibitions development around it.
Ruth and her brother Herbert, Jr. collaborated to serve as the driving forces behind the unique intersection of industrial manufacturing and contemporary art through the formation of the Arts/Industry residency program in 1974 with Kohler Co.
Ruth also served on the Kohler Foundation, Inc., board from 1969-2019 and as the Foundation’s President from 1999-2006. Since the 1970s, the preservation of art environments, folk architecture, and collections by self-taught artists has been a major focus of Kohler Foundation.
1941 - 2020