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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ruth W. Lanighan, 88, a lifelong resident of Lockport, passed away January 5, 2015 at Odd Fellows Rebekah's Pathway under the loving care of her family and Niagara Hospice, after a lengthy illness. Born September 28, 1926, she was the daughter of Velma L.J. (Calhoon) and Walter T.C. Whittard. Ruth was married to James H. Lanighan, Jr. for 47 years. He predeceased her in 2002. She was also predeceased by her first husband, Paul L. Williamson, who died in 1952, as well as a beloved son, Kevin Williamson, in 1951.

Ruth was a graduate of Lockport High School (class of 1944) and Rochester Institute of Technology (1947) with a degree in Retail and Interior Design. She was an expert seamstress and tailor, and instructed sewing for both her Home Bureau and the 4-H Center. As well, she was a talented folk artist and taught American Folk Art and Country Painting for several years in Adult Education classes at Starpoint and Sweet Home Schools, as well as workshops at Artpark, the YWCA, and the Kenan Center. In the late 1960's, she collaborated with a partner, Joanne Allison, in a small business known as JOEL Decorators. In the early 1970's, she was chosen to be a Craftsman in Lockport's prestigious 100 American Craftsmen Show at the Kenan Center for three consecutive years. She was also a wonderful Homemaker, and with Jim, raised a family of five children. She later became involved in local politics, supporting and working for the then 139th District Assemblyman, Matthew J Murphy. She managed his Lockport office as Senior Administrative Assistant for 18 years (1975-1992), and contributed her talents and energy to many of the accomplishments achieved by that office in those years: the "I Love New York" Tourism campaign, the establishment of Lockport's Community Soup Kitchen, the Erie Canal Revitalization Program, as well as ongoing development of the Seaway Trail.

Over all the years, she enjoyed affiliations with several organizations.  She was a founding member of “The” Book Club, (purportedly Lockport's first), and was an avid reader her entire life. She was a longtime member and supporter of the Lockport Public Library, the YWCA of Lockport, the Dale Association, the Kenan Center, the Niagara County Historical Society, and the First Presbyterian Church. She had strong personal ties and supported both the Smithsonian Women's Committee and the Stroke Comeback Center in Vienna, VA. She was also a proud member of the Ale and Quail Club (Auxiliary) and Alpha Xi Delta, as a RIT alumnus.

Surviving Ruth are her children: two sons, J. Paul (Darlene) Williamson of Oakton, VA and Thomas J. Lanighan of Lockport; three daughters, Karen J. (Robert) Rockwood of Middleburg, VA, Kathleen L. (Jack) DiMaggio and Carol S. (Joseph) Mangiafesto, both of Lockport; one brother, Walter W. Whittard of Tempe, AZ, and three sisters-in-law, Patricia Lanighan, Sister Linda Lanighan, SSMN, of Buffalo, and Muriel Williamson of Lockport. Also surviving her are 5 grandchildren: grandsons Jeffrey (Wendy) Williamson of Alameda, CA and Mark (Natalie) Williamson of Arlington, VA, and step-grandsons Danny (Jennifer) DiMaggio of Dubai, UAE, Jon-david (Leslie) DiMaggio of Fox River Grove, IL, and Paul (Kelly) DiMaggio of Wasilla, AK; eleven great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her sister, Velma June Forster, in 2008.

Friends may call on Wednesday, Jan. 7th from 4 to 8 PM at Prudden & Kandt Funeral Home, 242 Genessee Street in Lockport. A celebration of her life and memorial mass will be held on Thursday, Jan. 8th morning at 10 AM at St. John the Baptist Church, 168 Chestnut Street, Lockport, NY. Memorial gifts may be made in Ruth's memory to Niagara Hospice, 4675 Sunset Drive, Lockport, NY 14094 or to the Lockport Public Library, 23 East Avenue, Lockport, NY 14094.



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