Remembering Ruthanne Cecil

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Our merry gang of misfits and troublemakers is one smaller with the passing of Ruthanne Cecil. Ruthanne was there at the beginning, organizing community members to fight the aerial spraying of herbicides. EPIC was quite different back then—a completely volunteer organization that was once based out of an abandoned step van in Southern Humboldt.

Her son, Donovan Cecil, graciously provided EPIC with this remembrance of his mother:

Ruthanne Cecil passed away unexpectedly at her home in Arcata on Feb. 13, 2018. She was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Sept. 15, 1945 to Lester and Ruth Josephs, joining her older sister, Beverly. She is survived by her son, Donovan Cecil (Annie); Donovan’s ex-wife, Alicia Renata; grandsons, AJ Mcreynolds and Devon Cecil (Amorette), as well as her sister, Beverly Galvan, of Portland. Also grieving her loss are her dear friends Cynthia Packard, Nathan Muus and Lillian Hoika.

She met Vayne Cecil when she was in college at Wheaton, Chicago, in 1965. They moved to the San Francisco Bay Area together, where they had their son, Donovan, in 1967. They separated around 1973, although she always spoke of him with love and affection. Vayne passed away in 1999.

She came to Humboldt County in 1974, fell in love with the area, as so many did, and bought property in Ettersburg. She was very proud of having built her cabin while trying to go back and forth from the Bay Area, settling here permanently in 1976.

She was a very active member of the community, serving in many organizations over the years. She was a founding member of EPIC (Environmental Protection Information Center), worked on the Redwood National Park Trails project with RCDC (Redwood Community Development Council), and published a newspaper (the Country Activist). She also served as Executive Director of CEED (the Center for Environmental Economic Development) and helped with many other groups that protected our local environment.

She earned a law degree from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1997, where Janet Reno gave the Commencement Speech. She wrote her Doctoral Thesis on Global Income Inequality, and, as a result of this, gave a talk at the United Nations on that topic. Most recently, she served on the Arcata Council Energy Commission.

Always interested in her roots, she joined several groups relating to her Finnish/Saami heritage and traveled to Finland and Sweden to explore the history of our family and culture. One of her major projects was researching the history and genealogy of the members of the Alaskan Saami Reindeer project. Ruthanne attended many North American Saami events, where she was a “valued and much loved friend with her quick wit and extensive knowledge.” She felt privileged to be an “Honored Elder” and deeply valued her friends and colleagues.

The family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support we have received. She affected so many people’s lives and was an inspiration to many, although she would never have described herself as such. She was a humble, self-effacing woman who valued her independence, and lived her life in accordance with the values she espoused. She was very much loved by her family and will be greatly missed.

If you would like to honor Ruthanne, please consider donating to the Sami Cultural Center of North America. There is also a GoFundMe page to help the family with funeral expenses. Or any local charity or group of your choice.

Also be informed and vote!

A memorial will be announced at a later date.