Obituary: Ruth W. Maynard

Mother, architect, artist, Renaissance woman, proud Californian

Longtime Claremont resident Ruth W. Maynard died September 8, 2017 from complications related to Cardio Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Her daughter was by her side.

Ms. Maynard was born Ruth Elizabeth Walker in 1933 in rural Greensboro, North Carolina, the youngest of three sisters, with a brother born 15 years later.

Her father owned a sawmill and her mother was a homemaker. She grew up uneasy with the chauvinism and institutional racism of the south, and made her mind up early that she would leave when she was able.

She was one of two persons in her high school class to go to college, graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1955. She left immediately for New York state.

In the Empire State, Ms. Maynard worked for a college extension service and eventually moved to Watertown, New York, where she met Jim Maynard, whom she married in 1960. From Watertown, the couple moved to Ashland, Wisconsin, where their only child, Sharon, was born.

In 1963, the family relocated to Claremont, in sunny Southern California, where Ms. Maynard found her place in the world, her daughter Sharon shared. She loved California and especially Claremont, where she lived until 2011, when she moved to Oregon to be closer to her daughter.

Ms. Maynard’s passion was art. “I never remember not having Joella Mahoney paintings on our walls,” recalled Sharon. She taught ceramics for years, took painting classes, and then in 1975 entered Cal Poly Pomona’s Masters of Architecture Program, from where she graduated in 1979, the same year her daughter graduated high school.

She loved the challenge of architecture, which combined logistical problem solving with beauty and design. She taught interior design in the 1980s and 1990s at Cal State Northridge, and was recognized as a lighting expert by Southern California Edison. Hollywood consulted with her on the ceramic masks made for the first Planet of the Apes film, in 1968.

“My mother was truly a Renaissance woman,” Sharon said. “Other than a car, there was nothing she could not fix, refinish, reupholster, rewire, remodel or rework. And she loved a good thrift store!”

Ms. Maynard is survived by her daughter Sharon (Larry) Maynard, her grand-dog, Fiona, and her grand-horse, Herm.

Friends who wish to share memories of Ms. Maynard may do so via email at

In lieu of flowers, Sharon asks that donations be made in Ruth Maynard’s name to an art venue of your choice. 


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