Ruth Rodale Spira, co-founder and co-chairwoman of Lutron Electronics, died Aug. 31 in Allentown, PA, at the age of 90. Ruth was pre-deceased by her husband of 60 years, Joel Spira, Lutron’s chairman, co-founder and director of research. They started Lutron in the spare bedroom of their Upper West Side Manhattan apartment. Together, she and Joel grew Lutron from a Coopersburg, PA-based entrepreneurial business that sold two products to a global leader in lighting and shading controls.
Ruth Spira initially focused on Lutron’s quality control area, and eventually established the company’s marketing communications department in 1982 and went on to develop much of Lutron’s marketing materials used throughout the world.
Spira was active with numerous organizations, including the Allentown Art Museum, the Allentown Arts Commission, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, and the Lehigh Valley Wellesley College Group. Additionally, she served as a trustee for Cedar Crest College and as a board member for the DeSales University Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. She was also an active member of Lutron’s advisory council.
She is survived by daughter and son-in-law Susan and Pekka Hakkarainen; daughter and son-in-law Lily Spira Housler and Ryan Housler; daughter Juno Spira; grandson Ari Hakkarainen and his wife, Nicole; grandsons Max Hakkarainen and Bailey Malanczuk; sister Nina Houghton; sister-in-law Miriam Poser; and many nieces and nephews. She is pre-deceased by her parents and brother Robert Rodale.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Parkinson Disease Association, 131 Parkinson Avenue, Staten Island, NY, 10305 or www.apdaparkinson.org.