Ruth Helen Gennrich

Ruth Helen Gennrich was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 25, 1936, to Alfred and Dorothy (Weiss) Gennrich.

She graduated from Northwestern University in 1958 with a Bachelors degree in Theater and Speech Education. She worked in all phases of theater production in San Francisco and Actor’s Workshop and in New York City at Lincoln Center and Columbia University from 1958 to 1972.

In 1972 she moved to Lawrence, Kansas and was a Teaching Assistant in the University of Kansas theater department while studying biology. She received her Masters degree in Systematics and Ecology in 1975.

Following a year as Educational Director at the North American Wildlife Park in Battleground, Indiana which housed a pack of Wolves, she returned to Lawrence where she was Director of Public Education at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum, which included running the Summer Workshops for Young People program for hundreds of children each summer, for over 20 years until her retirement in 1998.
Ruth enjoyed traveling throughout the world learning about the people and animals and their various habitats.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister, Mary Butterbrodt and nephew Karl Butterbrodt. She is survived by three nephews; Jay Butterbrodt and Cheryl Barczak, Tim and Lupe Butterbrodt, and Paul and Roseann Butterbrodt, and six grand nieces and nephews.
Ruth was active in the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE). She served several terms as treasurer and as their representative to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Nongame Wildlife Advisory Counsel. (KNWAC). She also was NE area representative for the Kansas Museum Association (KMA) and participated in the Mountain Plains Museum Association, (MPMA).
A celebration of her life will be held at a later date.
If you wish to make a donation in Ruth’s memory, please make a donation to Always & Furever Midwest Animal Sanctuary 23595 W. 223rd St Spring Hill, KS 66083 or may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

3 Condolences

  1. Patti Redel on June 21, 2021 at 10:24 pm

    I met Ruth in 1976 when I was at the University of Kansas and applied for a summer job at the Museum of Natural History as a program ‘teacher’. Her tutoring and unbelievable energy made me focus my environmental studies degree toward environmental education, not a solid degree at that time. I worked for her until I graduated; she became my mentor and encouraged me to follow my love of education. I did that and made a career in non-formal education, not as a classroom teacher, but a teacher of teachers.

    There are few people in your life who are mentors and leave a mark on your heart. Ruth was one of them for me. Fly with angels Ruth!

  2. Stephen Shawl on January 10, 2022 at 9:26 am

    I met Ruth sometime in the 70’s when, as a professor of astronomy, we talked about having astronomy classes done through the Museum’s summer programs. She was enthusiastic about the idea and classes went on during the summer for many years. Because of that, at least one student I recommended work for her went into science museum education. She had an impact. And, she had a great laugh, too!

  3. Vicky Wolters Latz on July 24, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    Ruth was a wonderful inspiration during my years at KU. She was so willing to allow her team of student teachers to try something new, and even encouraged me to teach evening astronomy classes to families out at the lake. Life-changing! If Ruth hadn’t teamed up with Professor Shawl to create those weekend and evening astronomy classes, I wouldn’t have had such a delightful career teaching science in museums and alternative education programs. Thank you, Ruth, for all you did for so many.

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