Category Archives: my friends

Ruth Wahtera



The following are comments of mine upon learning of the death of my longtime friend Ruth Wahtera, a native of Peabody, Massachusetts, who passed away on March 20, 2016:

In my opinion, Ruth was a very strong woman. Ahead of her time that way, but she didn’t seem to think about it. She had a quiet self-confidence, but was not overbearing. She just always seemed to be fully in command of her faculties, never lost her perspective and insight, had a great sense of humor, and could get to the bottom of things before you yourself could.

She did not take herself too seriously, yet at the same time she approached everything she did with great dedication and seriousness. She was very competent, inspired respect, yet at the same time she was approachable and friendly. She was easy to talk with, and you would always get an intelligent response. She was very mature for her age.

She was one year younger and behind me in school, but so smart, capable, mature, and level headed that I looked up to her.

We were fortunate to have been able to have resumed contact in recent years.

I first met Ruth, who was from Peabody, Massachusetts, in 1962 at a Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) conference on Star Island in the early 1960’s.

Ruth succeeded me as Chairman of the New England Regional Committee (NERC) of LRY during the 1964-65 academic year.

During the following year, she was President of Continental LRY.


– Roger W. Smith

     April 2016





A memorial service for Ruth Wahtera was held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Concord, New Hampshire on April 23, 2016.

Posted below is a downloadable booklet from the service.


‘A Celebration of Life,’ Ruth Wahtera


Roger W. Smith, “tribute to my classmate Russell Minkwitz”



My former classmate Russell Minkwitz died on September 15, 2015 at the age of 69.

I have great memories of Russ.

Russ and I attended Canton High School in Canton, Massachusetts. Russ was Co-Captain of the Canton High football team.

He married another classmate of mine, Carol Soule.

An excellent obituary of Russ is online at

The obituary gives the facts of his family, his activities, and his professional accomplishments, all of which are impressive. I would just like to say something briefly about Russ, the person I knew in high school, based on my memories of him.





Russ was in all my classes. He was handsome, a great athlete, and a very good student. He was a true scholar-athlete.

He was a truly nice person. He was soft spoken and modest. He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was good natured in general and took kidding well.

We used to call him Rusty.

We were in math class together with the legendary teacher Martin J. Badoian. Russ really liked the class and Mr. Badoian. I believe math was his favorite subject. Mr. Badoian, in turn, liked Russ. When he found out that Russ had a girlfriend, he used to kid him about it. Russ, as usual, took the teasing modestly and well.

I was reunited with Russ briefly at our 45th reunion in 2009. He was one of the people I was most glad to see. He looked great then. No doubt no one knew then of his impending illness.

Often at such events, one can be apprehensive about seeing people again after all those years. With Russ, I felt completely at ease right off the bat. I was so glad to see him. He was so friendly, so well spoken. He made it plain that he was glad to see me.

At that time, Russ told me a little about his student days at Penn State, where he played football under Coach Joe Paterno. He said he really regretted quitting football because of an injury. I appreciated Russ’s candor. I could relate to what he said because there are things I regret not having done when I was young, when I had the opportunity.

I sent a letter of condolence to Russ’s wife Carol a few weeks after his death, having learned about it from a former classmate.

Carol Minkwitz responded with a Christmas card to me in which she wrote, “Russ bore his suffering with nobility and never complained.”

I thought to myself, that was Russ.



— Roger W. Smith

   January 4, 2016






Roger W. Smith, boyhood postcard from New Hampshire


“Dear Mom + Dad / I’m having a ball here. We went to Concord. I haven’t spent much yet so I can spend more later. We may go to Benson’s Animal Farm. _____ foods great. I’m learning much more swimming. / Love, Rog”

sent from Northwod Narrow, NH

A very good friend of mine from Cambridge, MA, Francis Donlan, invited me to stay with his uncle and family for a few days on his uncle’s farm in New Hampshire in the summer of 1958.  Among other things, we helped with farm chores. The main crop was potatoes. We spent a  lot of time in the evenings at a roller skating rink.