Community Leader Ruth Marler Remembered
Co-founder of the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce, auxiliary police officer, dies at 89
Ruth Marler, a cofounder of the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce and an auxiliary police officer with the Fairfax County Police for 27 years, died Jan. 4. She was 89 years old.
Marler and her late husband, Howard, settled in Alexandria during the 1940s. The couple later started Photos by Marler, a professional photography business in Alexandria. Howard was the photographer and Ruth maintained the office and acted as assistant photographer.
“Most people, when they think of my parents, they think of a team,” said Marler’s daughter and curator of The Howard Marler Museum, Helen Marler.
Before Photos by Marler, Ruth had come to the Washington, D.C. area to study medicine. She later channeled her love of medicine into teaching first aid classes for the Red Cross for 14 years.
Marler’s former student, Steve Lynch called her a “mentor, teacher and a living legend.”
Lynch and his siblings were required to take CPR lessons to become lifeguards, he told a crowd of more than 200 people who attended Marler’s memorial service Jan. 25 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Alexandria.
“Taking a class with Ruth was very entertaining,” he said. He said Marler would wave her hands and stomp her feet to get her point her cross. Additionally, the students knew she rode a Harley Davidson motorcycle, so therefore she wouldn’t take any guff.
“She really did have a heart of gold. She was a sweet person and uplifting, always building you up and never putting you down,” he said.
In 1954, Ruth and Howard assisted close friend Ernie Corso in founding the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce. The three were good friends, so it was a natural recourse, Helen Marler said. The couple also served on the chamber’s board and was longtime members. They also took pictures at the chamber’s events.
In her early sixties, Marler decided to join the Fairfax County Police Department’s Franconia Station as an auxiliary police officer. She served for 27 years and logged more than 11,000 hours. She served a dispatcher and taught first aid.
Marler also assisted with the station’s emergency operations facility, helped with traffic control during parades and helped fingerprint nearly 13,000 children to advance the station’s goals of child safety, said Franconia Police Captain Sean Bennett.
“Her efforts kept our station moving,” he said.
Marler would walk to the police station every day. But, she fell Dec. 14 only blocks away from the station on Franconia Road. She later succumbed to her injuries.
“She didn’t volunteer to be recognized, she volunteered because she thought that’s what a person should do,” Bennett said.
Ruth Marler’s body was donated to George Washington University for medical research. A graveside service will be scheduled when it is returned in a little more than a year.
“All you people that love my mother and you say that she gave to you,” Helen Marler said. “You gave to her. And, thank you.”