Ruth Wetmer Obituary (1953 – 2022) – Toledo, OH
By Mark Zaborney
Blade Staff Writer
Ruth Ann Wetmer, a manager at Ohio Bell Telephone Co. in an era when few women were her peers, died May 31 in her Sylvania home. She was 87.
Her death was unexpected and the cause unknown, said her niece, Penny Parker. She lived independently and wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere but home.
“She was someone who was such a character – so fun, super sharp,” Ms. Parker said. “She really prided herself on her outstanding career.”
Mrs. Wetmer retired in the late 1980s as district personnel manager after more than 30 years with the phone company.
The first woman in Ohio to hold a district-level position, the Blade reported in 1979, she was responsible for training those who operated the company’s business offices and telephone stores across Ohio. She spoke then of her duty to others – to help open corporate doors.
“There aren’t enough females around to act as mentors – the males all had them,” Mrs. Wetmer said in 1979. She hoped to help other women get ahead “only if I feel confident that they can handle it. I can show them mistakes I’ve made, show them a different way.”
A woman in management then could not let out frustrations as a man could.
“He can swear or lose his temper in a group of peers. But a woman can’t be one of the boys. And she should never cry in a meeting, because they’ll say she can’t control her emotions. Hold yourself in check. You must be very careful of that,” Mrs. Wetmer told The Blade.
Ms. Parker said: “She enjoyed the challenges and the opportunity to be a pioneer among women in that industry.”
She was analytical with her advice as her niece began a law career – above all, “‘Don’t underestimate yourself,'” Ms. Parker recalled. “She was a never-ending source of support for me.”
Mrs. Wetmer was hired as an Ohio Bell service representative in the business office and was promoted to business office supervisor, commercial manager, and then a district commercial manager. Kathryn Linver as an Ohio Bell service representative worked for Mrs. Wetmer.
“She was very funny and loved a good laugh, but she was very serious about her work,” Ms. Linver said. “My experience was she was helpful to the people she supervised. She was kind and respectful.
“She was very competent,” Ms. Linver said. “I think she liked what she did, and she liked people, and that was a real people business.”
Mrs. Wetmer was a campaign co-chairman in 1977 for the renewal of a Lucas County Children Services levy. In 1979, she was in the inaugural Toledo class of Tribute to Women In Industry honorees, which the YWCA of Northwest Ohio cosponsored.
She paid close attention to her grooming and business attire. She spoke to The Blade in 1978 about the importance of first impressions. And her support of women’s shelters and programs for women seeking employment included donations of her clothing.
In retirement, she and her husband, Floyd Wetmer, a former AT&T national account manager, enjoyed Great Lakes voyages aboard their boat, Rung Out. They were members of Maumee River Yacht Club and Catawba Island Club.
She was born Jan. 26, 1935, in Monroe to Roberta and Arthur Harrell. She grew up in Toledo and was a graduate of Scott High School. She attended Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo.
Her marriage to Joseph Lauber ended in divorce. She and Mr. Wetmer married June 8, 1975. He died Aug. 1, 2003.
Surviving are her brother, Franklin Harrell, and sister, Linda Parker.
Reeb Funeral Home in Sylvania handled arrangements.
This is a news story by Mark Zaborney. He can be contacted at [email protected].
Published by The Blade on Jun. 15, 2022.