Anna Ruth Franklin

Date of Birth

May 6, 1935

Date of Death

June 1, 2022

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Anna Ruth Franklin, age 87, died on June 1, 2022, in Santa Barbara, California, with family by her side. Born Anna Ruth Ruetting in Memphis TN, May 6, 1935, to Herbert (“Dutch”) Ruetting, a cabinetmaker, and Alice Ruetting who worked in retail (Sears & Roebuck). She is survived by her children Janet Franklin, Lisa Franklin Johnson, Scott Franklin and Bruce Franklin; her grandchildren, Allie Hager, Savannah Franklin Rey, Connor Franklin Rey, Miles Johnson and Cooper Johnson, and her great granddaughter Laney Bryson. She is also survived by her sister, Mary (“Kay”) Simpson, and her brother, Robert (“Bobby”) Ruetting, and their children and grandchildren.

Anna spent summers growing up exploring Memphis far beyond her working-class neighborhood on her bicycle. At age 18 she was a labor union activist.  She went to Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska for several years, and then moved to Chicago and became a flight attendant for American Airlines where she met Denis Franklin. They were married to for 17 years and they had four children.  Anna later owned a barber shop, The Hairport, and worked as a book keeper.

She is remembered for her feminism, her feminist and LBGT activism, her decades of sobriety, and her work in addiction education. In the 1970s and 80s she was active in the National Organization for Women, working for legislation and social change in support of gender equality, and getting her picture taken once with Gloria Steinem. One of her children recalls at middle school age being taken to a protest rally at a Safeway supermarket in support of Cezar Chavez’ United Farmworkers table grape boycott.  Another child remembers riding around in Anna’s VW bus with the 3-foot lettering on both sides: “E.R.A. N.O.W.” (Equal Rights Amendment & National Organization of Women).

She created a warm, welcoming, vibrant home and family life in all of her homes, full of her favorite things — conversation, good food, sunshine, swimming pools, and people.  Her personality was as dynamic and loud as the bright colors she favored and she left an indelible impression on everyone who crossed her path. Anna sheltered battered women in her homes.  Her hobbies included candle making, leather working and wood working.  Anna loved art museums & galleries, especially modern sculpture.  She loved theater; and had season passes to the opera.  She hiked with the Sierra Club and was a card carrying “Wild Woman” who did not lightly suffer fools.  She cruised the Pacific Coast with the whales and dolphins.

She fiercely loved and was fiercely loved by her children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchild. She influenced three generations of feminists in formative ways, and is remembered by her family and friends, children of her friends, her children, friends of her children, her grandchildren, and friends of her grandchildren, for whom she was foundational to their understanding of feminism and sense of personhood. She insisted that everyone respect, love and value themselves and expect others to do so too.

Anna spent much of her life in service to others – caregiving, helping, supporting, advising, and protecting.  Mother, trailblazer, leader by example, iron willed warrior with a poet’s soul, Anna was as unconditional in her love as she was intense in her passions. Though her candle has extinguished, she leaves in her wide tumultuous wake a glowing constellation of lights that continue to spread and illuminate the way forward. She was a force of nature and she will be missed terribly.

If she is in a better place, that place is free of patriarchy, misogyny, bigotry and injustice. It is full of love, books, nature, art and ideas. And it has a Starbucks and a pool.


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