By: Christina M. Acosta
(Boston)--Ruth (Segal) Rothfarb was a testament to what true determination and commitment can achieve at any age. As she turned 84 years old, she was running 10 miles a day and completing marathons in 5 ½ hours. At the height of her running career she held 22 world records in her age group.
She was an encouraging woman who once said, she never believed in just sitting around having tea. Raising her family in Cambridge, she and her husband Harry, operated a family clothing business in Cambridge and Somerville until it was sold after Harry died. Then at 69 years old Mrs. Rorthfarb began running and a few years later embarked on a mission to enter competitive races. She competed in the Boston Marathon, and the Tufts 10k among others. Her love of running and travel brought her to long-distance races around the world, including New Zealand, Thailand and Mexico.
Older adults today are living longer, and many find themselves in senior care facilities as their health declines. Ruth Rothfarb inspired older adults to remain active. As a resident at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, she remained a shining example of unbound athleticism. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Hebrew SeniorLife's Ruth Rothfarb Summer Festival in honor of her inspiration to all older adults and avid runners.
When Ruth died at the age of 96, her family established an endowment fund to support Hebrew Rehabilitation Center's Annual Summer Fun and Fitness Festival in her honor. The festival was designed to encourage physical activity and wellness among HRC's residents, but it has been remodeled to reflect HRC's increasingly frail population. The new model allows residents to participate without regard to physical restrictions and to enjoy summer activities in a festive atmosphere other than a therapeutic one.
In addition, the endowment fund established by the Rothfarb and Segal families provides specially designed sports and exercise equipment that is used by residents in their weekly exercise groups. The equipment includes modified versions of tennis, bowling, soccer and field hockey.
This years summer festival was held Thursday, June 25, featuring music by the Flounders, a Beach Boys/Jimmy Buffet-type band, and was attended by more than 150 residents and employees who enjoyed music, refreshments and game. Other festival activities planned this summer include the Brookline First Corps Cadet Band led by Irving Shine, The band is a 100-person band performing show tunes and patriotic songs.
Still inspiring, Ruth’s memory lives on with the 10th annual Ruth Rothfarb Summer Festival. Her life is proof that age does not limit athleticism or dreams.
Hebrew SeniorLife is a non-profit, teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School recognized internationally as a leader in senior health care, housing and aging research.
To learn about opportunities to donate or create an endowment fund visit www.hebrewseniorlife.org.
Volunteer Gerrit Wiezoreck of Germany dancing to the music of The Flounders with resident Freda Lilenfield
Resident Arnold Wenig and Employee Michelle Smith enjoying the 10th annual Ruth Rothfarb Summer Festival