Victoria College has had many esteemed alumni through the years – however, the varsity’s web site states, “few are extra extraordinary than Ruth Bentley.” A lifelong advocate for youngsters, ladies and training, the devoted social employee and instructor toiled tirelessly to complement life for others at her alma mater, organizing one of many College of Toronto’s largest-ever alumni occasions and co-founding the Mates of the Library and the Victoria School Ebook Sale. “She believed strongly in training and that training results in alternative,” says Victoria College spokesperson Jennifer Little. And so, Bentley acted accordingly.
Born in Toronto to Archibald (Archie) Bentley, a barber with a store on Queen Road East, and the previous Ethel Mae Lawson, Ruth Miriam Bentley grew up in the course of the Nice Despair. She attended Swansea Public College and Humberside Collegiate Institute, graduating with a level in social work from Victoria School on the U of T in 1943.
Her first job on the Youngsters’s Assist Society in Toronto modified her life in additional methods than she might think about. There, she shaped a particular bond with Lorna, a younger woman with spina bifida. After Bentley introduced Lorna house for the vacations, her dad and mom determined to grow to be her guardians, making Bentley a sister.
“That is maybe the best indicator of the individual my aunt was,” says Bentley’s niece and Lorna’s daughter, Martha Wreford, “to take an orphan baby and supply a house and future for her, and to assist nurture her to grow to be the perfect she may very well be.”
A instructor and social employee, Bentley lived in Toronto, Saskatchewan and London, U.Okay., earlier than returning to Ontario to proceed her profession on the Ontario Coaching College for Women in Galt, Nelson Excessive College in Burlington and Danforth Tech in Toronto. “She believed in being agency however form and that training would give the ladies a future,” says Martha. “She was keen to find the background of an individual and what made them tick, earlier than forming a plan or judgement.” Bentley retired from Mayfield Secondary College in 1984.
Forward of her time, Bentley “understood training took many types, distinctive to every individual,” says Martha. “She travelled the world, too many locations to checklist,” says her nephew, Andrew Wreford, and had been to each continent, for each pleasure and the pursuit of training — from the Bering Sea to New Zealand to find out about defending the wildlife, lengthy earlier than local weather change was a time period.
Though she was beneficiant with each her time and money, “she believed that her time and power spent in determining an answer and displaying others how one can work it might be of far better use,” says Martha. Beneficiaries included Victoria School, the place she was described by one in all her classmates as “the glue which held her class collectively,” says Victoria College’s chief librarian emeritus Robert Brandeis. “Ruth helped to plan each 4T3 — her graduating class — reunion since commencement.”
Figuring out “that books held the ability of data,” Martha says, Bentley helped begin the Mates of the Victoria School Library and in 1992, the Victoria School Ebook Sale, remaining closely concerned in each for the subsequent quarter century.
“In 1986, she was the chair of the Sesquicentennial dinner on the Harbour Citadel, which had virtually 3,000 alumni and pals attend and was the most important in U of T historical past,” says Andrew.
When she noticed a trigger in want of consideration, she gave her time and power till she believed it had been addressed efficiently, says Martha. She established in-course scholarships, and upon discovering that the 1981 Nobel Prize-winning co-inventor of laser spectroscopy (and Victoria School graduate) Arthur Schawlow was terminally unwell, she labored tirelessly to land him an honorary diploma. She additionally developed the Schawlow scholarship and was instrumental in organizing a public lecture by the physicist. Bentley additionally helped Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt and opera singer Mary Lou Fallis every get conferred with an honorary Physician of Legal guidelines.
Being an agent of pupil success appeared to provide Bentley a substantial amount of satisfaction, says Brandeis. “She felt that she was really doing one thing concrete to organize college students for future careers and social accomplishment.”
Bentley’s contributions earned her U of T’s Arbor Award, the best honour granted to prestigious and longstanding volunteers in 1995, adopted in 1999 by Victoria School’s Distinguished Alumni Award, for a unprecedented contribution to society at massive.
In her later years, Bentley break up her time between her house in Etobicoke and her cottage in Haliburton, residing alone till the age of 97. In December 2020, Bentley contracted COVID-19 on the long-term care facility the place she was residing, says Andrew, however overcame it to have a good time her one centesimal birthday the next summer time.
“She was bigger than life,” says Martha, and “had fabulous sense of humour as properly. She targeted on her profession and being the perfect she may very well be. She wouldn’t settle for something much less.”
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