Martin Ruther supported the political and civic leadership roles of his wife, Helen.
Martin Ruther supported the political and civic leadership roles of his wife, Helen. (Jen Rynda / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Martin Ruther, a retired Medicare statistician who was a pioneering resident of Columbia, died July 23 from congestive heart failure at Residences at Vantage Point in Columbia. He was 95.

The son of Jacob Ruther, a dry cleaner, and his wife, Etta Ruther, a stay-at-home parent, he was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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After graduating from Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn in 1942, Mr. Ruther attended City College of New York at night and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and statistics in 1951.

He worked as a statistician for the City of New York and in 1959 moved to Albany, N.Y., where worked in the education and tax departments as a statistician for the New York state government.

In 1967, Mr. Ruther joined the fledgling Medicare program at the Health Care Financing Administration in Woodlawn and settled into the new town of Columbia.

“He enthusiastically embraced James Rouse’s ideas of Columbia as an innovative, desegregated community,” according to a biographical profile provided by his family.

Active in community affairs, Mr. Ruther was a co-founder of the Columbia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and was an active member of the Columbia Democratic Club.

A chess enthusiast, he was the founder of the Howard County Chess Club and volunteered teaching chess to elementary schoolchildren. He founded the Tennis Table Club, and, being a fan of classic films, he was a longtime member of the Columbia Film Society.

After retiring in 1989, he began tutoring newly arrived immigrants, providing one-on-one English lessons and helping new Americans from Ethiopia to Romania learn the ways of life in their new country. He also tutored students in Howard County public schools.

An inveterate reader, he was the only male member of a women’s book club, family members said.

He was married in 1958 to the former Helen Stein.

Mr. Ruther was an avid supporter of his wife’s political and civic leadership roles when she was serving as president of the Howard County League of Women Voters and during her 15-year stint as a member of the Howard County Planning Board.

He was a member of Columbia Jewish Congregation.

Services were held July 26 at the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center in Columbia.

In addition to his wife of 61 years, he is survived by two sons, Paul Ruther of Takoma Park and David Ruther of Marriottsville, and three grandchildren.

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