Ruth Larson Mankin, influential Republican

July 7, 2014

Ruth Larson Mankin, 81, died Thursday, July 3, 2014, surrounded by her loving children Margaret, Theodore and Susan. She was pre-deceased by her loving husband, The Hon. Hart Tiller Mankin. Mrs. Mankin was born Ruth Larson Nov. 14, 1932, in Conrad, Mont. to Ernest Roy Larson and Leila McCartney Larson.

Ruth's earliest years were spent in Shelby, Mont. where her father owned and operated the Larson Brothers Department Store. She received her high school degree from the Brownmoor School for Girls in Scottsdale, Ariz. Ruth studied speech and radio/television arts and graduated with the class of 1954 at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. While at Northwestern, she met and began dating Hart Mankin, the love of her life. Ruth and Hart were married in Shelby, Aug. 14, 1954.

Ruth and her husband, Hart, shortly thereafter moved to Texas to begin their professional careers and to start their family. A daughter, Margaret Ruth, was born in Wichita Falls, Ks. in 1955, followed by a son, Theodore Howard, in Houston, Texas in 1959, and a daughter, Susan Ruth, in 1962 in Houston. As her children grew, Ruth was busy as a Girl Scout leader, with Episcopal Church activities, and with the Houston Head Start program.

Both Ruth and Hart were most active in building the then-nascent Republican Party of Texas. She managed her husband's campaign for the Texas state legislature, wrote a grassroots organizational manual for Texas GOP precinct chairmen, edited The Banner, the Harris County (Texas) GOP newspaper, and volunteered in the 1964 United States Senate campaign of George H.W. Bush, and assisted with public affairs outreach for Barbara Bush.

Moving to Washington in 1969, Ruth served as a volunteer in the Congressional office of George H.W. Bush, worked in opposition research at the presidential re-election committee of President Richard Nixon, and did publicity for the Fairfax County (Virginia) GOP committee.

In 1974, the Mankin family moved to Wilmington. Ruth joined the campaign as press secretary for Republican congressional candidate Thomas B. Evans. Following Rep. Evans' election in 1976, she became district press secretary and special assistant in his Delaware office. In 1978, she took a leave of absence to run for the Delaware General Assembly in the old 14th legislative district. She won her primary, but lost the general election and returned to Rep. Evans' Congressional office. In 1980, she ran Evans' successful re-election campaign.

In early 1981, Ruth was appointed as regional director of public affairs for the Mid-Atlantic Region of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the first Reagan Administration. In 1983, she became a vice president of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, was responsible for the chamber's publicity and public relations, and edited the twice-monthly State Chamber News newspaper. During this time, she was co-founder of the Child Care Connection (Family and Workplace Connection), president of the Delaware March of Dimes Chapter, served on the capital campaign of the Girl Scout Council of Delaware, became a board and advisory council member of Wilmington Women in Business, and was active in numerous other Delaware civic organizations. In 1988, Ruth and her husband Hart were named co-chairmen of the George H.W. Bush presidential campaign in Delaware.

In 1990, Ruth and Hart Mankin moved back to Washington as Hart was appointed by President George H. W. Bush and was confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as a judge on the newly-created Federal Court of Veterans Appeals. Ruth was named the national director of government and public affairs for the White House Conference on Aging. Ruth completed her distinguished career in public service on the personal staff of First Lady Barbara Bush during 1991-92.

Following her husband's death in 1996, Ruth moved to Lewes, where she wrote frequently for the Lewes Historical Society Journal, served on the board of directors for Clear Space Theater Company, and acted often with the Ad Hoc Reader Theatre, and conducted publicity for Coastal Concerts Inc. Outreach, and took numerous courses at the Southern Delaware Academy of Lifelong Learning. Ruth is survived by her three children, Margaret of Alexandria, Va., Theodore of Oak Hill, Va., and Susan of Downingtown, Pa. as well as seven grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, July 9, at 10 a.m., at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Second and Market streets, Lewes. Arrangements are being handled by Parsell Funeral Homes & Crematorium, Lewes.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made in her name to St. Peter's Episcopal Church at the above address or to the ALS Association of Greater Philadelphia, 321 Norristown Road, Ambler, PA 19002.


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