Ruth H. Donaldson, 89, an assistant to State Department chiefs of protocol in the Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower administrations, died of congestive heart failure Jan. 6 at the Washington Home hospice. She lived in Washington.

A son, Gregg Donaldson, confirmed the death.

Mary Ruth Howard was born in Landrum, S.C. She moved to Washington upon graduating from high school in 1941 and began working in the office of the U.S. chief of protocol. She began her career as an assistant secretary and rose through the ranks to become executive assistant to the chief of protocol.

Her duties included acting as a liaison between the White House and Blair House, the official guest house, when foreign heads of state and other dignitaries visited Washington. She was a seating adviser for formal state dinners and was responsible for thank-you letters to foreign heads of state for their gifts to U.S. presidents.

She had taken business courses at Strayer College and American University.

After leaving federal service in 1959, Mrs. Donaldson was a volunteer protocol adviser to several organizations.

Her husband, John C. Donaldson, whom she married in 1956, died in 1990. Survivors include two sons, Glenn H. Donaldson of Glen Burnie and Gregg J. Donaldson of Washington; two brothers; and a sister.

— Bart Barnes