Ruth Maloof, originally Ruth Ella McRae, was born on February 5, 1933, in the small town of Waldo, Arkansas, to General McRae and Maggie Smith McRae. She was raised primarily in Arkansas until her family decided to move to Detroit for her to attend a better high school. There she graduated cum laude in 1951 from Northeastern High School.
Maloof found her way to San Francisco to attend San Francisco State University. She majored in education and she developed her lifelong interest in motivating the lives of young people, particularly in impoverished communities. Her embodiment as a teacher and mother would define her professional life. She graduated from SFSU in 1955.
One of Maloof’s first goals during the outset of college was to start a family and begin helping children within her community. Ruth began to raise her own family while also creating an at-home daycare. She continued this work for many years until her efforts were noticed by the city of San Francisco. She was hired to become a youth director for San Francisco Unified School District.
She also continued aiding other youth education organizations in the city. She worked in schools such as Raoul Wallenberg High School (RWHS), where she was the President of the Parent Teacher Association and would help foster change by addressing the overcrowding of schools. By 1983, RWHS had only been open two years previous and it now had over 500 students in attendance. Teachers did not even have classrooms and the school’s infrastructure was poor. She said of the situation: “We won’t have a graduating class until next year. Even then, we have no place to put them. Right now we have two teachers without classrooms. They have to go from room to room, wherever one is not in use.” This was just a prime example of the hands-on activist approach that allowed her to garner such a profound reputation as a loving mother and teacher.
By the early 1990s, Mayor Frank Jordan would name an official “Ruth Maloof Day” in San Francisco in recognition of her 21 years of volunteering and leadership.
Ruth Maloof worked in San Francisco Public Schools for 21 years. Mayor Frank Jordan declared an official Ruth Maloof Day in the 1990s.
In 1970, Ruth married Dr. George Maloof. They would end up having six children together: Quijuan, Kwixuan, Zurvohn, Vyhan, Xatrohn, and Yhunuan. She had many grandchildren whom she loved dearly, which is part of the reason why she never got tired of being a mother figure. Her entire personal and professional lives had been dedicated to children and family, focusing on educational opportunities for all. She was a devout Christian woman, largely choosing to worship at St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church in San Francisco.
Later on, after retirement, she would move to Las Vegas to her dream house, The Castle. She spent her final years being with family and tending to her meditation garden at her home. She had a stroke in Las Vegas in 2009, with the next two years consisting of constant hospital care in San Francisco. Ruth passed away on August 9, 2011 in San Francisco at the age of 78.
Ruth Maloof’s character was embodied by how loving, personable, and dedicated she was in caring for others and in providing educational opportunities to all. Not only was she active in taking care of her family and friends, but would go on to help take care of entire schools and communities in San Francisco—she was just a joyful, loving spirit. Ruth Maloof’s legacy will live on forever, not solely through the metaphysical but also through her presence on the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center mural with the caption “Mother of All,” truly encompassing her efforts to create a better community for everyone, regardless of way, shape, or form.
— Marcelo Swofford and Zachary James
“Ruth Ella Maloof.” SF Chronicle and SFGate.com. In Memory. 10 Aug 2011.
Wong, Ken. “Classes are Overcrowded, PTA Chief says.” SF Examiner. 16 Jun 1983.