Tuesday, January 7, 2003


Ruth Shaffer, 92, was organist

By Rebecca Billman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ruth Weber Shaffer, a former organist for the Cincinnati May Festival and an accompanist for Clifford Harvott, a Metropolitan Opera soloist during the 1940s and 1950s, died Dec. 21 at St. Luke Hospital East.

The Westwood resident was 92.

Mrs. Shaffer played with the May Festival in the 1950s when her aunt, Grace Simmons, was director, said daughter-in-law Susan L. Shaffer of Panama City Beach, Fla.

A member of the second graduating class at Western Hills High School, Mrs. Shaffer went on to study piano at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Mr. Harvott was a fellow Cincinnatian. Mrs. Shaffer accompanied him when he returned to his hometown to perform.

She left the May Festival when her aunt did in the 1960s.

She played the organ for Westwood United Methodist Church for 52 years. The church choir asked to sing at the Christmas Eve funeral service.

"They thought so much of her," said Susan Shaffer. "I thought that was quite a tribute."

Ruth Shaffer was a 50-year member of the Westwood Women's Club, and a member of the Cincinnati Woman's Club, Mu Phi Epsilon and the Argus Club.

Her husband, Earl R. Shaffer, died in 1981.

Survivors include a son, Daniel E. Shaffer of Panama City Beach; and three step-grandchildren.

Burial was in Miamitown Cemetery.

Memorials: Westwood United Methodist Church Organ Fund, 3460 Epworth Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211; or a charity of the donor's choice.

E-mail rbillman@enquirer.com

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