Ruth Haefner, a 1918 graduate of the University of Iowa with a degree in home economics, has risen from her first job as a home canning demonstrator to become a leading force in the fight for the rights of minorities. She has helped elderly people of all races and many minority groups achieve better lives with her work in the Gray Panther organization and the NAACP.
Haefner has devoted her energy to the Gray Panther movement in the Northwest since 1973, and is co-convener of the group in her home state of Oregon. She constantly attends workshops and travels to schools to tell students of things they have in common with the aged. It has been said that she has a virtual warehouse of material on the subject, and she has used it to persuade legislators and businessmen tat the elderly have rights. She has recently worked against forced retirement laws.
Haefner was one of the first white women to hold membership in the NAACP, becoming a life member in 1938. She also was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1940, and ran for the Oregon legislature two years later. She is currently a member of the Western Gerontology Society, and is active in the League of Women Voters and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
Haefner lives in Portland, Oregon.