Ann Moliver Ruben

Ann Moliver Ruben

RUBEN: Ann Moliver Ruben a celebrated psychologist and author of two books — Ann of Squirrel Hill — died in her sleep Jan. 21. Just 12 days earlier, she had celebrated her 98th birthday. Her parents were Fanny (“Frima Landy”) and Max (“Moetel”) Moliver who came to the United States from Tulchin in the Vinnitsia Region in West Central Ukraine. Max and Fannie, along with Ann’s older sister Sonia, age 10, and Rosie, age 2, immigrated to the United States at Ellis Island in 1924 as they were fleeing from the Russian Revolution, famine and several pogroms. Max’s older brother, Dave, a house painter in Pittsburgh, sponsored them to emigrate. Max and Fannie arrived in the United States with two girls, Sonia, age 10 ( deceased) and Rosie, age 2(deceased). Ann was born in Pittsburgh on Jan. 9, 1925, the only member of the Moliver family that was born in the United States. Ann’s parents were proud to renounce their Russian/Ukrainian Roots and thanked God that they were able to become citizens of this County.
Ann’s ancestry was significant in the Jewish community. She was a direct descendant of Rabbi Samuel Mohilever of Vilna, the intellectual center of Lithuanian Jews. Rabbi Samuel Mohliver was among the first founders and leaders of the Hibbat Zion movement and served as the force behind the religious faction within the movement. His lifework planted the seeds which would later germinate into the Mizrachi movement under Rabbi Jacob Reines. In July of 1882, Rabbi Mohilever went to Paris to meet a young Baron de Rothschild and convinced him to take an interest in the struggling settlers in Israel. Baron de Rothschild became the single greatest benefactor for the Zionist movement in his generation.
Ann and her family grew up in the Hill District and were very poor. Her father was a peddler selling housewares door to door in Bloomfield and was barely able to support his family. Max gave people credit — a dollar a week and hopefully there would be a dollar payment next week. While living in the Hill District, they left in the middle of the night to avoid her father being arrested for nonpayment. Ann recalled that one day she came back from Holmes Elementary School and told her mom that she was hungry. Her mom pointed to the last egg in the refrigerator and told her she could have it, but had to eat it raw because the gas was cut off. It was at that time that Ann vowed that she would never be hungry again. When Ann talked about her challenging childhood living on Tannehill Street in the Hill District, she frequently quoted the famous comedian Rodney Dangerfield when he said, “We were so poor in our neighborhood, the rainbows were black and white.” Ann told her three sons that she went to eight different elementary schools because her parents and her sister had to move out in the middle of the night for non-payment of rent.
When Ann attended kindergarten at Holmes Elementary she only spoke Yiddish, but learned English quickly. Her father would constantly say to her, “Annala du bist klieg” — meaning in Yiddish that you are very smart. Ann attended Peabody High School in the East End and graduated at age 16, two years ahead of her class and with academic distinction. After graduation, she landed a job at 20th Century Fox as an assistant secretary to support her parents. While at Peabody High, she was smitten by Gershon Ruben, a neighbor, while watching Gershon riding a bicycle. It was love at first sight.
In 1943, Gershon attempted to enlist in the Army but failed the physical because of his eyesight. He volunteered in the Army Air Corp (now the United States Force) unbeknownst to Ann. Gershon’s closest friend, Hershel Hausman, told him that the Army Air Corp would take anyone with no physical required. Gershon signed up with Army Air Corp and packed his bags and went off with his newly-enlisted crew to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for basic training and to become a radio and radar operator.
Ann came to visit Gershon in his parents’ apartment on Phillips Avenue and was shocked to learn that Gerson had enlisted and was off to basic training in Souix Falls, South Dakota. However, Ann was determined to see Gershon before he left for the European theatre and to get married. The problem for Ann was that she had no money to take the train, but her Aunt Lena, who was married to her father’s brother, Dave Moliver, gave her the money. When Aunt Lena asked why she was going to Sioux Falls, her answer was simple: “To marry Gershon.”
The next day Ann took the train to Sioux Falls and came to the base requesting to see Gershon. When Gershon saw Ann, he was taken back, and asked her: “What are you doing here?” Ann’s reply was simple. She asked Gersho: “Will you marry me?” and Gershon’s response was the classic line from Jack Benny: “I’m thinking.” Ann responded that she intended to stay at Sioux Falls for a week for an answer. Three days later Ann and Gershon were married by Judge Justin Tall of the Minnehaha Circuit Court who was Ann described as “sunk drunk” on June 23, 1943.
Gershon resumed his training with the Army Corp and was based in Croydon field in London, experiencing the relentless bombing with V-1 and V-2 rockets. Gershon never spoke about his military service — he was part of the greatest and silent generation. Gershon was honorably discharged with the rank of master sargent, the highest rank for an enlisted man. He was highly decorated, receiving the distinguished service medal, and his squadron liberated Buchenwald. When he and his troopmates came into the camp the Germans had already fled. He came up to one walking skeleton of a man and Gershon spoke in German “ich ben ein Jude,” meaning that he was Jewish, and the man collapsed in Gershon’s arms and they both cried. Gershon returned to Pittsburgh after VJ day from London.
When Gershon returned from WW II, he returned to Duquesne University on the GI bill and the Rubens started a family with Stephen, Richard and David born during the boomer era — all born and raised in Pittsburgh. Stephen serves as a Superior Court judge in Unified Family Court in San Francisco and is married to Dr. Marcia nee Teitelbaum; Richard is a trial attorney practicing in Miami, Florida (Marcy nee Kramer); David Ruben is founder of a bio-medical equipment company based in Weston and is married to Ann nee Hamilton of Weston, Florida. Ann has six grandchildren: Leah Deza of Encinitas, California; D. Aaron Ruben of Pittsburgh; Justin Ruben of Weston, Florida; Alexander Ruben of Weston, Florida; Zachery Ruben of Cummings, Georgia; and Melissa Rubenstein of Highland Park, Illinois; and three great-grandchildren, Elinor Ruben of Pittsburgh , Ari Ruben of Pittsburgh, and Eris Deza of Encinitas, California.
As her three sons grew older, Ann yearned to broaden her education. Her sons supported her, but Gershon was less sure in the beginning. Her son Stephen said that she was “really determined.” With a partial scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, she earned her degree in elementary education in 1961, taught kindergarten in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood District and where she served as community liaison for the President Lyndon Johnson administration.
Ann received her master’s degree in counseling at Pitt in 1965. She joined the psychology department at Pitt in 1966 and worked as a counselor at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. In 1973, she was awarded a PhD in higher education and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. Ann received many awards for her leadership and her professionalism as a professor and marriage and family counselor. She was honored by the Association of University Women, Hadassah, “Who’s Who in America” and received a lifetime achievement award from her alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh.
Until her death, Ann actively promoted female leadership since she was 8 years old, and her cousin Irwin told her that a woman could never be president of anything. In 1993, Ann conducted a study with 1500 boys and girls in five different elementary schools in Miami. She asked if they ever thought about being president of the United States when they grew up. To her surprise, more girls than boys said that they thought about being president. To encourage female leadership, she self-published a 42-page illustrated coloring booklet entitled “How I Grew Up Feeling Some Day I Could be President of the United States,” which she read to hundreds of first and second graders. A few months later, her husband discovered a Dennis the Menace comic strip panel with Margaret proclaiming that “Someday a Woman Will Be President.” She received permission from famed cartoonist Hank Ketcham to use the image. She sold shirts to a South Florida Wal-Mart store, and after a customer complained, the shirt was banned because they said it violated Wal-Mart’s family values.
Throughout her lifetime, Ann Ruben tirelessly promoted women as leaders and particularly for a women to be president of the United States, often against very strong headwinds. Many national organizations, including the American Association of University Women, were her strong supporters in purchasing the Margaret T-shirt promoting a women to be president for their fundraisers. Ann Ruben proudly wore the shirt wherever she went, in elegant formal affairs. She never gave up on her dream and was convinced even at the time of her death that her dream would be fulfilled. As proudly expressed in the last version of the Margaret T-shirt, that “someday” is now! PJC

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