Published: October 5, 2016
NORWICH, N.Y. — Ruth “Ruthie” Zager was rare, authentic and desirable — just like her most sought-after Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century antiques.
But let’s get one thing straight, Ruthie herself was not an antique. At age 80, she had the vitality and panache of her younger self.
Ruth showed no signs of “settling patina,” and her beautiful veneer was not peeling when she passed away in the loving arms of her devoted husband, James “Jim” Gallagher, at her home on August 30.
Gallagher and Zager’s love was born from tigerwood, Chippendale and andirons. Over the span of 40 years, they worked to become preeminent purveyors of early, historic fireplace equipment. Their business was fueled by Ruth’s effulgent persona, extensive knowledge of early Americana and an infectious smile that lit fireplaces on the coldest winter days.
Ruth was born in 1936, in New York City, to the late Goldie (Miller) and Dave Rodman. She excelled in school, skipping a grade at the Eastern District High School in Brooklyn to graduate at the tender age of 16.
She left the Big Apple’s garment district in the 1950s for the tranquility of upstate New York’s countryside.
Ruthie took her mom’s “golden rules” of honesty, ethics and generosity to heart — they served as her guide to a model life, and she made it a part of her life’s work to help those in need, donating money and time to numerous organizations and agencies.
Ruth was a great cook, a voracious reader, loved classical movies and taking in Broadway shows.
She got the biggest kick out of Halloween, her grandchildren, the beach and catching a nap in the well-appointed garden she created with Jim. Her vast group of friends were eclectic and delightful, and gave Ruth joy to have each one in her life.
She was a marvelous mother to Jay and Eric Zager. As Eric put it, “Having Ruth for a mom was like winning the lottery every day.”
In addition to her two sons, Ruth is survived by her husband Jim, five grandchildren she adored, Alexis and Kaitlynn Zager, Sheehan Gallagher Hannan and Sky Gallagher Hannan and Morgan Olsen. She also leaves behind much-loved nieces and nephews and her dear twin brothers, Phil and Charles Rodman.
Please don’t think of Ruth leaving us; she’s just gone dancing.
A memorial service and celebration of Ruth’s life took place on September 10. Contributions in Ruth’s name can be made to Meals on Wheels or the MDS Foundation.
—Submitted by the family
Brandt William Onorato, 62, Moggies Auction Service
June 6, 2023
Bruce Ingraham, Auctioneer and Dealer, 60
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Bruce Ingraham, 60, Auctioneer & Dealer
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