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Ruth S. Blank, 91, Raised Millions of Dollars for Alz​heimer's Disease

February 21, 2008
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Ruth Saler Blank, 91, who raised millions of dollars for Alzheimer's disease research, died Jan. 28, at her home in Elkins Park.

Blank became active in the Alzheimer's Association after her husband, Samuel A. Blank, who founded the law firm now known as Blank Rome, died of the disease in 1976. She eventually became vice chairwoman of its executive committee.

A graduate of West Philadelphia High School and the University of Pennsylvania, Blank established the association's Samuel A. Blank Research Fund to support the work of prominent researchers. She also was a founding member of the Alzheimer's Association Zenith Society, which supported new research.

In the 1980s, she started an annual fashion show and lunch in Palm Beach, Fla., where she wintered for 30 years. She recruited top designers and retailers, and raised more than $300,000 for Alzheimer's research each year.

She was honored in 1988 with a distinguished service award from the Alzheimer's Association.

Blank stopped her active fundraising in 2002 after she became the first recipient of the Alzheimer's Association Lifetime Achievement Award. By then, she had raised more than $5 million for the cause.

The author of a self-published book, My Bag of Memories, for many years she offered advice and comfort in support-group meetings to help others affected by the disease.

A needlecrafter, she knitted sweaters for her grandchildren, made needlepoint copies of famous paintings, crocheted dresses for herself, and designed and needlecrafted pillows for gifts.

Blank is survived by son Robert Blank; six grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by another son, Jeffrey Blank, in 2004.

Memorial donations can be made to: the Ruth and Samuel Blank Fund for Alzheimer's Research, Alzheimer's Association, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60601.

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