Type of entity
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Alexander, Ruth Ann
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Dates of existence
Ruth Ann Alexander February, 13 1924 – February 1, 2010
Born in Lansing, MI on February 13, 1924 to Harry and Anne (Green) Musselman, Ms. Alexander graduated from East Lansing High School and Michigan State University with a BA in English in 1945. She completed her masters in American studies at the University of Minnesota and her PhD in American intellectual history at Michigan State. She married William Alexander in 1955 and had three children.
Ms. Alexander taught English at South Dakota State University for 34 years, becoming full professor and the first woman to head the English Department (1981-1989). She developed the university's first courses focusing on women writers and African American and Native American literature. She chaired the committee that created the Women's Studies major. Ms. Alexander received numerous grants and fellowships, including a Bunting Fellowship at Harvard in 1987. She received SDSU's Outstanding Educator Award" in 1971, 1972, and 1974. Upon retirement in 1989, she was named Professor Emeritus and continued to research South Dakota women writers and women in the Episcopal Church. From 1994 to 2002 she wrote a column about women in the Episcopal Church called All Sorts and Conditions of Women" for South Dakota Church News. In 2003, she published the collected columns in Patches in a History Quilt: Episcopal Women in the Diocese of South Dakota, 1868-2000. She wrote numerous scholarly articles on such South Dakota writers as Elaine Goodale Eastman and Kate Boyles Bingham. She was a touring member of the Great Plains Chautauqua series, portraying Elizabeth Cady Stanton from 1989-91 and acting as series moderator from 1998-2001.
A life-long advocate of equal opportunities for women and girls, Ms. Alexander was the first woman on the Brookings School Board (1970-1975) and worked for equal funding for activities for girls and boys and higher academic standards. In 1972 Governor Kneip appointed her to the first statewide Commission on the Status of Women where she served until 1979. She also served on the Board of Directors for the South Dakota Historical Association from 1988-2000; the Episcopal Church History Association from 1992-1997 and for the Episcopal Women's Church History Project from 1991-1997. She helped found the Brookings Food Pantry and was chair of the Emergency Services Commission from 1983-1999.
Ruth Ann Alexander died of lymphoma on February 1 in Brookings, South Dakota. She was preceded in death by her husband, William Alexander in 1979; her sister, Jane (Musselman) Addams of Houston, Texas in 2008; and her late life sweetheart, Wes Kelley of Brookings in October 2009. She is survived by her three children: Jane Alexander (Mark Johnson) of New Orleans; Andrew Alexander ( Linda Kruckenberg) of Wayne, NE; and Sarah Alexander of Sioux Falls; and by her siblings: George Musselman of Grand Haven, MI; Sarah (Musselman) Phelps of Madison, WI; and Mary (Musselman) Fischer of Hastings, MN .