Valdosta artist Ruth Chamberlain Kahler, Associate Professor Emeritus of Art at Valdosta State University (VSU), died peacefully and quietly at 1:30 p.m. on 6/5/2017 at Fellowship Home with several members of her beloved family at her side. Many more of her family were able to say their good-byes before she died. As another family member said upon hearing the news, "Although I'm glad of it, I must say I'm surprised she went 'quietly into the night'. It just doesn't seem her style!" Ruth was anything but ordinary.
Ruth was born in Augusta, Maine March 2, 1918 to Joseph "Harry" and Leila Hutchins Chamberlain. She had an older sister, Catherine Chamberlain McCraw and a brother Richard J. Chamberlain, both of whom preceded her in death. Her brother-in-law Gordon "Chick" McCraw and Sister-in-law Hilda B. Chamberlain, whom she loved like siblings, also preceded her.
Art = Ruth. As a child in first grade, Mrs. Kahler drew beautiful pictures of girls and sold them for a penny. Ruth was so good at art that in the 1930's as a young 16 year old girl she was accepted and attended the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia on a full scholarship. In the 1960's, she earned both a Bachelor's and a Master's in art at Florida State University. She then taught art at Leon High School in Tallahassee before moving to Valdosta to teach at VSU in the art department for many years until she retired. She was also a member of Phi Kappa Phi and The National Honor Society.
Professor Kahler's art experiences included fashion illustration in Washington D.C and Baltimore, teacher, painter, art critic and weaver. She conducted workshops and museum tours in the United States and Europe. Mrs. Kahler exhibited many places in the Southeast. Her paintings and fiber constructions hang in homes, professional offices and public buildings in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, and California. Ruth was a member of First Christian Church, the Valdosta Arts Commission Guild, and the D.A.R. as well as being honored by the D.A.R as Woman of the Year in 2015.
Ruth traveled extensively in the United States and abroad. She was called by those who knew her, a "Collector of People" because she lovingly collected people worldwide beginning with the Marcel Gouge family in France, Tom & Pat Dowthwaite of England, and Gretta O'Rourke of Ireland. These people visited and traveled with our Ruthie often in the USA and she visited and traveled with them overseas. The people that she "collected" are far too many to name, but friends of her children, of her many nieces & nephews, of her grandchildren, of her friends friends, caregivers…well, the list is endless. Suffice to say she was adored as Ruth, as Auntie Woofie, as Ruthie, as Skippy, Mom II, as the Queen Mum, as well as Mrs. Kahler…the teacher of many. To say that she also inspired other artists would be an understatement! The palette of the world is filled with more color because of this amazing woman. She painted her last painting just 3 days before her death.
Ruth is survived by two sons and a daughter: Fred Kahler (Karen) of Shreveport, LA; David Kahler (Jane) of Apopka, FL; and Janice K. Smith (Andy) of Valdosta, GA. Grandchildren: Michael Sheffield (Cris) of Valdosta, Drew Smith of Atlanta, Kahler Ruth Smith of Valdosta GA, Angie Kahler (Ngawang Jamchen) of Armidale, Australia, Tavis Kahler (Jessica) of Apopka FL, Jamie Hendrix (Caroline) of Shreveport, Kristen Mosura (Michael) of Bossier City, Chad Hendrix (Karen) of Blanchard, and Katy Le Bauve of Lake Charles LA., as well as 14 Great grandchildren. Ruth also had 9 nieces and nephews who adored her as a second Mom. Additionally, grateful thanks to the many people/caregivers in her life of late who kept her safe and cared for…Roxie, Ruth, Pam, and Buddy LaHood and all those at Fellowship Home who loved her. Ruth's caregiver for the last 4 years, Cheryl Jowers (Joey) and her three daughters became part of our family as well. We absolutely couldn't have done it without her.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Valdosta State University Foundation College of the Arts for an art student scholarship; to First Christian Church, 1905 N Patterson St, Valdosta, GA 31602; to the Turner Center For The Arts, 527 N Patterson St, Valdosta, GA 31601; or to a charity of your choice.
Services will be held Sunday June 18th, at the First Christian Church (address above) in Valdosta. The family will receive visitors in the Fellowship Hall at 3:00 p.m. and Ruth's Celebration of Life will be at 4:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. Bring nothing but love and memories to share. Life simply will not be the same without her presence.