Ruth Gmeiner Frandsen, 85, the first female reporter to cover the U.S. Supreme Court and one of a handful of women who became Washington newspaper correspondents during World War II, died of pneumonia June 10 at Sligo Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Takoma Park, where she lived.
Known at the time by her maiden name, she joined United Press as a dictationist in 1942 but was quickly promoted to reporter. She covered a number of federal agencies before moving to the Supreme Court. She filed the wire service "flash" that reported the court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
In 1949, she was assigned to the White House to cover Bess Truman. She later became a news feature writer. Mrs. Frandsen covered both the 1948 and 1952 political conventions, the House Un-American Activities Committee's investigation of accused spy Alger Hiss, and the Puerto Rican terrorists who tried to assassinate President Harry S. Truman and who opened fire on members of Congress from the public galleries of the House. She also wrote about the then-new medical theory that alcoholism was a disease, not a character weakness.
She resigned in 1954 after marrying the UP bureau chief, Julius Frandsen. Mrs. Frandsen dedicated much of the rest of her life to animal rights. She served on the board of the Montgomery County Humane Society and lobbied for anti-cruelty laws at the state and federal levels.
Mrs. Frandsen was born in Pueblo, Colo., and raised in Knoxville, Tenn., and Adrian, Mich. She attended Adrian College for two years and then received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.
Her husband died in 1976.
Survivors include a son, Jon Frandsen, of Takoma Park; a brother; and two grandchildren.