Anne Ruffner Edwards died at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough, Maine, on December 24, 2018, after being diagnosed with brain cancer earlier in the month.
Born on August 29, 1945 in El Paso, Texas, she was the first daughter of James Stephens and Mary Elizabeth (Williams) Ruffner. She was raised in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Aliquippa High School and Grove City College. She taught high school English in Akron, Ohio, and Carnegie, Pennsylvania, before her children were born. Later she earned an M.S. in Library Science and Information Systems from Clarion University of Pennsylvania.
While a librarian and part-time instructor at Clarion, Anne was selected to be part of the Career Renewal Project, a federally-funded program to help state college faculty and staff transition to “real world” employment. Anne was the “star participant,” said Don Drake, program director and longtime friend. She launched her career in higher education administration as the Director of Career and Student Services at the Carnegie Mellon University Heinz School for Public Policy and Management in Pittsburgh. She spotted an opportunity at the University of Chicago, where the public policy inter-departmental committee was becoming a degree-granting school, and informed the founding dean why he and the school needed her. Not immediately convinced, he listened to multiple pitches before relenting. She went on to serve as Assistant Dean at the Harris School of Public Policy from 1989 until 1993. From there, she moved to Washington, D.C., to become a senior associate at the National Academy of Public Administration for four years. That was followed by a visiting appointment at the University of North Carolina as Director of State and Local Policy Programs.
Anne worked as a freelance writer and editor, specializing in environment policy, economic development, and education for numerous organizations, including the Pew Charitable Trusts; University of Maine; Educational Testing Service; Carnegie Endowment for Peace; University of Maryland; Maine Development Foundation; and Maine Governor’s Commission on Health Care. She helped many Ph.D. candidates polish their dissertations; no doubt, she would have used her red pencil on this obituary to good effect.
Anne moved to Portland in 1998 to be near her children. She began working at the Portland Public Library as a reference librarian the following year, and was then hired at the University of Southern Maine as a reference, research, and instruction librarian. Sandy Shryock, a public library colleague, remembers her as “the type of reference librarian patrons hope they’ll meet—who knows the answer or where to track it down.” Anne once reflected “You gotta love a career that allows you to find out the color of Valerie Bertinelli’s hair and locate a feminist critique of Jerusalem’s Gate in one 20-minute period.” She also taught at the USM Muskie School of Public Policy and Lewiston-Auburn College, and later worked at the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership as an administrative assistant.
Along the way, Anne became fond of the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles and, in Portland, enjoyed walking a few blocks to attend Sea Dogs games. Primarily, though, she waved her Pittsburgh black-and-gold sports loyalty with fierce determination. (At the same time, she wasn’t above flaunting her Texas roots.) While not a native of Maine, she fit right in. She had strong opinions, a sardonic wit, and was stoic and independent. She celebrated family occasions and friendships with flair and generosity.
She is survived by her children, Elizabeth Edwards, Kittery, Maine, and Stephen Edwards, Portland; her two sisters, Rebecca R. Lobato, Aurora, Colorado, and Malissa Ruffner, Baltimore, Maryland; her son-in-law, Steve Hickoff, and cherished granddaughter, Cora Hickoff, a junior at Carnegie Mellon University; her maternal uncle, Jerry L. Williams, of El Paso, Texas; and nieces, nephews, and a host of friends.
Anne donated her body to the University of New England. No services are planned. Memorial donations may be made to the ACLU of Maine, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, or Maine Audubon. She would want us to keep up the good fight.
[A shorter version of this obituary appeared in the Portland Press Herald on 28 December 2018.]