Obituary: Ruth Levinsohn Siteman, philanthropist, 92

Ruth Levinsohn Siteman, a graduate and longtime benefactor of Washington University in St. Louis, died peacefully at home in St. Louis, surrounded by her family, Thursday, June 13, 2024. She was 92.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she earned her bachelor’s degree from Washington University in 1975 and raised her four daughters to engage with the world in ways that would bring their lives meaning.

Ruth Siteman

Along with her husband of 72 years, Alvin J. Siteman, Ruth was an ardent philanthropist and community leader. In 1999, the Sitemans made a gift of $35 million to name the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and ­Washington University School of Medicine, which today is a national leader in cancer treatment, research, prevention and education.

“Ruth was passionate that the center be focused on the patient experience and our providing hope to everyone who came to us for care,” said Timothy J. Eberlein, MD, the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor at the School of Medicine and director of the Siteman Cancer Center. “It was of great importance to her that Siteman not only provide state-of-the-art care but also the most supportive care, treating patients as though they were members of our immediate family.”

The Sitemans also established three professorships at WashU, in pediatrics and in oncology at the School of Medicine; and in marketing at Olin Business School.

The recipient, with her husband, of the Jane and Whitney Harris St. Louis Community Service Award, Ruth was passionate about women’s reproductive rights, early childhood education, civil rights and the arts. She served on the boards of The Scholarship Foundation, Reproductive Health Services and as a founding member of WashU’s National Council of Arts & Sciences, among many other organizations.

She was a highly respected docent at the Saint Louis Art Museum and was proud to serve on the 22nd Circuit Judicial Commission, where she interviewed candidates to help fill judicial vacancies on St. Louis city’s circuit court. She also worked for many years as a counselor at Hope Clinic and Reproductive Health Services.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by her daughters, Estelle (De Kaplan) Siteman, Nancy Siteman, Joanne Gordon and Suzanne Siteman; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

To honor her request, there was no service or visitation. Tributes in her memory may be made to the National Council of Jewish Women, St. Louis Section; Planned Parenthood of St. Louis; the American Civil Liberties Union; or the St. Louis chapter of Evelyn’s House.