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Ruth Dare

Teacher, musician, centenarian

Ruth Elaine Dare, a longtime resident of Pomona, died peacefully in her home on December 1, 2015. She was just 18 days shy of her 101st birthday.

She was born in Crawford, Nebraska on December 19, 1914 to George and Florence Soester. She grew up on a farm, helping with all of the chores and riding a horse to school from the fifth through eighth grades. Ruth took piano lessons and then, when she was in high school, bought a clarinet from Sear’s Roebuck and taught herself to play using the instruction booklet.

She graduated from Crawford High School in Nebraska and went on to get a degree from Greely State Teacher’s College. She married and moved to California where she began teaching at the elementary school level. She continued to teach school, mostly in the West Covina School District, while she raised her three children, Dennis, Arlan and Janice.

After her 1975 retirement, she embarked on a second career. In 1980, she opened the Ruth Dare Studio, teaching piano at her home in Pomona’s historic Lincoln Park district. She was still teaching piano at 100, and was playing the piano the day before she died.

Ruth was in the choir at the Pilgrim Congregational Church and played clarinet in the Pomona Community Concert Band for more than 30 years, beginning in 1952.

She can be seen on YouTube discussing the concert band’s history and playing Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In” on clarinet. The video is part of the Pomona Public Library’s “I Am California of the Past” project. Ms. Dare also celebrated local history through her membership in the Pomona Historical Society.

Ms. Dare was also active in PEO international, an organization devoted to the educational advancement of women, and the Music Teachers Association of California (MTAC). She served as president of the former organization for a time.

Ms. Dare relished going to operas and other music performances, and just this summer attended each of Claremont’s Concerts in the Park. She loved reading, especially biographies, and kept her mind sharp by doing the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin’s crossword puzzle each day.

She was also an avid traveler, journeying over the years to China, Japan, Australia, Ireland, Mexico, Peru, Guatemala and Israel. When her kids were young, she took them on road trips back to the family farm in Nebraska. She also twice bought VW campers and drove them across Europe. She attended all of the MTAC conferences held in California and, just two years ago, flew to San Jose on her own to take part in another. 

While there was undoubtedly a genetic component, Ms. Dare’s longevity also stemmed from a healthy diet, including lots of tofu, and an active lifestyle. She enjoyed practicing yoga at her home and, up until age 95, attended dances at venues like Palomares Park as often as three or four nights a week.

Ms. Dare’s musical legacy will live on through the many students she taught and inspired. These include her star pupil Vanessa Garcia, with whom Ruth would often give joint recitals and who now has piano students of her own.

She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Arlan and Leanne Dwyer of Lake Arrowhead; her daughter and son-in-law, Janice and Dick Takemoto of Rancho Cucamonga; her grandchildren, Steve Dwyer, Carrie (Rick) and Jamison Edwards (Helen); and great-grandchildren Whitney and Sidney.

The family would like to thank the caregivers who helped keep Ruth happy and healthy, including Claudia Bermeo, Morys Tejada, Valerie Johnson and Arron Baker.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 16 at 2 p.m. at the Pilgrim Congregational Church, located at 600 N. Garey Ave., in Pomona. A reception held in the fellowship hall will follow the service.

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