Ask anyone who knew Ruth Seeber to describe her, and you’ll hear words like tenacious, fun-loving, kind-hearted, charismatic and talented. Seeber was a singer, an actress, a teacher, a writer and a mother of six. She left an indelible mark on Evergreen when she and her husband, Roy, founded the Evergreen Chorale. More importantly, she left an indelible mark on the world with her enthusiasm and authentic love of life.
Ruth Seeber died on April 19, three days short of her 84th birthday.
In 1972, Ruth and Roy Seeber placed an ad in the Canyon Courier seeking people who were interested in singing. A group of 15 to 20 people met in the Seebers’ living room and formed what would become the Evergreen Chorale. The Chorale started out doing two stage shows a year. Roy was the director.
“Ruth did everything else,” says Elaine Sohrweid, a longtime member of the Chorale. “She organized rehearsals, she made costumes, she printed the programs, and she had parts in the shows. Ruth took care of anything that needed to be done to make the productions happen.”
Seeber was onstage in almost every Chorale production. She played Bloody Mary in “South Pacific” and Mrs. Shinn in “Music Man.”
“She was always playing the sidekick or the humorous part,” says Larry Sohrweid. “Ruth was the one that everyone remembered when they left the theater.”
Seeber had always had in interest in performing, and ran away from home at age 18 to put herself through Julliard. After meeting and marrying Roy, the Seebers moved to Colorado in 1971 from Garrison, N.Y. A mother of six children, Ruth supplemented the family income by writing newspaper stories, teaching at a high school and juggling community theater.
“There isn’t one company that she didn’t work for over the years,” says Melinda “Mindy” Foster, Seeber’s daughter. “The Aurora Fox, Mainstreet Players in Arvada, the Victorian Playhouse, the Morrison Theatre. She directed and acted with all of them, including the Denver Center Theatre Company from 1982-85. And, of course, the Evergreen Chorale.”
In other directing experience, Seeber developed a series of popular “roundtable” dramatizations presented at local schools and libraries. Her actors would take on the roles of historical characters such as Mark Twain or Florence Nightingale. Each actor would research her character and, in performance, extemporaneously debate selected themes such as art, science, politics and current affairs.
Seeber finally stopped directing when her eyesight began to fail. However, she had volunteered many years as a reader for Recording for the Blind. In later years, these talking books took the place of the written word for Seeber, a voracious reader.
“The books that sustained her in her later years, she had contributed so much to in her earlier years,” says Foster.
Whether Ruth Seeber was volunteering her time, raising her children, or tackling roles onstage, she did it with vim and vigor.
“Ruth was one of the most powerful people that I ever shared the stage with,” says Mike Moore, a longtime Chorale member. “She could engage an audience dramatically as well as vocally. Whatever she was doing onstage was so compelling. She was a woman whose energy and ability inspired all of us. And she will be missed.”
A Celebration of Life will be held to honor Ruth Seeber on Sunday, May 4, at 6 p.m. at the Denver Civic Theater, 721 Santa Fe Drive. Members of the Evergreen Chorale will be performing as part of the celebration.