Community mourns death of Ruth Frishman
Ruth Frishman made Truckee her home more than 20 years ago, and not long afterward devoted much of her time so that others could live in an increasingly unaffordable area more affordably.
Frishman, a founding member and first president of Workforce Housing Association of Truckee-Tahoe, died Tuesday morning after battling cancer.
After first coming to the Tahoe area in 1968 to spend a winter as a ski bum, Frishman left to attend UC Berkeley, then Golden Gate University to obtain her MBA and law degree. She stayed in the Bay Area working, consulting and advocating for affordable housing until her return to the Sierra in 1986. She continued her career in affordable housing, real estate law, property management, and real estate seminars.
Along with her work with WHATT and the Tahoe Truckee Housing Development Corporation, Frishman was the third woman admitted to the Rotary Club of Truckee and was president of the club at the time of her death. She was a past president of the Truckee Tahoe Bar Association and was named a Soroptimist Woman of Distinction in 1992.
Above all, friends remember her as a tireless campaigner for affordable housing in the region.
“Ruth had the vision to perceive the need for affordable housing long before any of the rest of us really got it,” said Breeze Cross, owner of Truckee Tahoe Lumber and a founding member of WHATT. “When I started perceiving the need within my business for more affordable workforce housing, the first person I called was Ruth.”
Rachelle Pellissier, the executive director of WHATT, said Frishman had advocated for affordable housing in Truckee for at least 20 years, well before the magnitude of the problem become readily apparent.
“She’s advocated for every affordable housing unit that’s come into the town of Truckee. And it was not easy,” Pellissier said. “If it wasn’t for her, those units might not be there.
“I don’t know if the Workforce Housing Association would be here if it wasn’t for her.”
Last week the Truckee Town Council recognized Frishman’s efforts in the community by issuing a proclamation in her honor. At the meeting, Ted Owens, a former mayor and now Nevada County supervisor, called Frishman a “friend, confidant, advisor, caregiver, distributor of tough love and hard to swallow medicine.” He said Frishman, his treasurer through three elections, always “laid it right out on the table, with little regard or worry.”
In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Owens said Frishman was “one of the finest people I have ever known in my life.”
“I think she respected the spirit of healthy debate and the sharing of differing points of view,” Owens said. “She worked very hard to help those less advantaged than her. She was on to affordable housing before it was cool.”
Truckee’s first mayor, Kathleen Eagan, said Frishman had an “unbelievable force of character” and wry sense of humor.
“Ruth was an individual that was way ahead of her time in this town in many things,” Eagan said. “She’s going to be sorely missed in this community.”
A celebration of Ruth “Rue” Ivy Frishman’s life will be held at Coyote Moon on June 11 at 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, gifts in Frishman’s name may be made to the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe, Tahoe Forest Hospice, or other charities in the region.
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