Donna Carruthers' gifts 'touched just about everything'

Philanthropist aided hospital, schools, the arts in Hamilton.

HAMILTON — Although she always considered herself an “average person,” Donna Carruthers’ philanthropy left a lasting mark on the city she loved.

Carruthers, 80, died Monday, Aug. 10, at Northern Michigan Regional Hospital in Petoskey, Mich.

Together with her husband Ralph Rogan “Pat” Carruthers, the couple gave community organizations and business tens of millions of dollars in recent years, resulting in such facilities as the Carruthers Arts Technology Center at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts and the Donna Y. Carruthers Cardiovascular Services Suite at The Fort Hamilton Hospital.

For their generosity, the Carruthers received many awards and honors. Most recently, they were given the Post-Corbett Award, a prestigious regional honor given by Cincinnati’s Corbett Foundation. In 2001, the couple was honored as Hamilton’s Citizens of the Year and previously had been given the keys to the city.

The couple maintained a number of funds at the Hamilton Community Foundation, said executive director John J. Guidugli.

“Their philanthropy touched just about everything in the community,” Guidugli said. “That was the one common denominator to all their giving, to help the community.”

Lynn M. Oswald, senior vice president of The Fort Hamilton Hospital, said the Carruthers provided an example of what it means to live one’s priorities.

“The health care programs that were funded by Donna and her family will remain as a testament to the positive difference that dedicated individuals can make,” Oswald said.

Notable woman will be missed: Donna Carruthers gave much to hospitals, schools, arts

There weren’t many aspects of life in Hamilton that didn’t benefit from the generosity of Mrs. Carruthers and her husband.

The legacy of the family will live on for years to come, with many landmarks bearing the family name, including the Carruthers Arts Technology Center and the Carruthers Signature Ballroom at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts, the Carruthers Music Complex at Wilson Junior High, Donna Y. Carruthers Cardiovascular Services Suite and the Ralph Rogan Carruthers Intensive Care Unit at The Fort Hamilton Hospital, and the Carruthers Police Plaza.

Their charitable giving also extended to the Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton, the Colonial Foundation, the Friends of the Park, the German Village Association, Junior Achievement of Greater Butler County, LifeSpan, Sister Cities, the Main Street Association, the YMCA and YWCA and many other charities.

“Anything we do is for the public, not for a select group, and that’s the way it should be,” Mrs. Carruthers told the JournalNews when she and her husband were honored as Hamilton’s Citizens of the Year in 2001.

The Carruthers family was vacationing at its Harbor Point, Mich., cottage when Mrs. Carruthers fell and broke her hip on Aug. 2, said Denny Walsh, family spokesman. She had surgery the following day and her health began “to spiral downward,” he said. She died in the early morning hours of Aug. 10.

Rick H. Jones, director of the Fitton Center for Creative Arts, described Mrs. Carruthers as “a dear friend to the arts in Hamilton.”

“She not only gave money, but she gave attention, passion and her own brand of criticism to keep the arts lively and exciting here on many levels,” Jones said.

But it wasn’t just the arts that were touched by their generosity. “Their commitment to a strong community, a good educational system and high-quality health care has never wavered,” said Oswald, senior vice president of Fort Hamilton. “She will be greatly missed as a community leader and a personal friend.”

Mrs. Carruthers was born Donna Young on April 11, 1929, in Lindenwald, and never strayed from her working-class values. She credited her financial ethics to growing up during the Great Depression and going to work at age 13. She graduated from Hamilton High in 1947, and met her future husband while working at Champion Papers. Pat, a descendant of the Procter family of Procter & Gamble, whose father owned a publishing company was working at Champion to learn the paper industry.

The couple married in 1958, and had one daughter, Sara Procter Carruthers, and two grandchildren, Elizabeth Procter Carruthers and Ralph Rogan “Rogue” Carruthers II.

Visitation will be 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19, at Weigel Funeral Home, 980 NW Washington Blvd., with services at 3 p.m. Burial follows at Oak Hills Cemetery, Glendale.

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