Apr. 8, 1920 Minneapolis Hennepin County Minnesota, USA
May 13, 2010 Castro Valley Alameda County California, USA
Ruth Chew, who turned her love of black cats, magic potions and pointy hats into a successful literary career, died of pneumonia May 13 in Castro Valley, CA.
Mrs. Chew, 90, had suffered from Alzheimer's disease for about nine years.
"Ruth Chew wrote about witches and wizards and covens and broomsticks and black cats, but have no fear of these witches," wrote a fan, Lucy Day of Singapore, on a Ruth Chew Web site after Mrs. Chew's death. "If anything, they will teach young readers the values of friendship, independence and self-esteem, since that's what the books are really about."
Mrs. Chew published 29 children's books, mostly short chapter books for readers 8 to 11 years old. Many of the books were set in Brooklyn, where Mrs. Chew spent most of her adult life, but carried a heavy dose of fantasy, time travel and magic. Among her titles were "The Would-Be Witch," "The Magic Coin" and "Trapped in Time."
Mrs. Chew was born in Minneapolis, but grew up in Washington, D.C. Her father was a journalist who had been ousted from Canada for his pacifist views during World War I, and her mother was a kindergarten teacher who had grown up in Burma.
"She loved fantasy from the beginning," her daughter, Eve Sprunt of Dublin, wrote in an e-mail. "She made up stories about the small porcelain dolls that lived in a dollhouse made from orange crates."
Mrs. Chew graduated from high school at age 16, excelling in every subject but math because "she didn't believe 2 plus 2 equals 4," her daughter wrote. After graduating from Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, Mrs. Chew worked as a fashion artist, sketching merchandise for newspapers and magazines.
In 1948, she married Aaron Silver, an attorney, and proceeded to have five children in less than 10 years. Unable to find work as a fashion artist, Mrs. Chew turned to writing and illustrating children's books based on stories she told her children. Her first book, "The Wednesday Witch," was rejected by 10 publishers before it was published by Scholastic Inc.
Mrs. Chew's books were translated into Japanese, Spanish, Finnish and Taiwanese, and were a favorite with librarians and teachers, Sprunt said.
Upbeat and optimistic, Mrs. Chew sketched constantly and was renowned for her smile and imagination, her daughter said.
In 2001, Mrs. Chew left Brooklyn and moved to Oak Creek Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Center in Castro Valley. She donated her body to UCSF Medical School for research after her death.
Burial: Body donated to medical science
Created by: Eric Olson Record added: May 24, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 111099115