Ruth Allen Siskind, 86, a retired Department of Defense specialist who volunteered with several community organizations and pursued a lifelong love of writing poetry, died of complications from surgery June 29 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. She lived in Bethesda.
Poetry remained a thread throughout Mrs. Siskind's life, and at 85 she published her first book of poetry, "Love the Brave World." Her daughter Marian Osher, a printmaker from Rockville, illustrated the book; another daughter, Sherry Trahan of Damascus, transformed a number of her poems into songs.
Mrs. Siskind recited her poetry throughout the area, often in conjunction with her volunteer work, allowing listeners a momentary glimpse into, as one daughter once said, "the windows of her soul."
Mrs. Siskind, a Philadelphia native, began recording her handwritten poetry in notebooks as a youngster.
She graduated with a teaching degree from Temple University in 1939 and was a social worker for the Pennsylvania Department of Defense before marrying in 1941 and moving to Baltimore.
She was a homemaker until 1964, when she became a transportation and travel specialist with the U.S. Department of Defense.
After retiring in 1982, she traveled extensively with her husband, took courses in computers and photography and continued to write poetry that celebrated nature, love and life.
An untiring volunteer, she was a member of Women's American ORT for more than a half-century, helping with fundraising activities and writing and producing a newsletter.
Her poetry readings became fundraising events for ORT. At the Ring House in Rockville, she planned and performed arts and crafts activities for people with Alzheimer's disease. She trained with the Literacy Council and taught English and reading to non-English speakers.
Annually, she made 20 to 30 two-sided pillows -- with happy and sleepy faces -- that she donated to Children's Hospital. She organized "Friday Lunch Bunch" for an elderly friend who could not drive, and it grew to a weekly event with eight other seniors.
Mrs. Siskind traveled extensively with friends; on a trip last winter, she went kayaking in the Baja peninsula. She was active in a book club and two bridge groups and enrolled in numerous OASIS senior seminar courses.
She and her daughter Marian combined their talents in solo shows of art and poetry at the Washington Printmakers Gallery in 1988 and at the Newman Gallery in Washington in 1993.
A longtime resident of Montgomery County, she lived in Silver Spring, Takoma Park and Chevy Chase before moving to Bethesda in 1987.
Her husband of 44 years, William Siskind, died in 1987.
In addition to her daughters, survivors include a son, Robert Siskind of Columbia; and six grandchildren.
Embodied in her poem "Love the Brave World" is the philosophy she embraced throughout her life.
Look at the stars on a dark night
And dream of time unending.
Love this little now, and life,
And the days that are all you are.