Columbia County suffered a great loss on Monday when Ruth Piwonka died. Ruth was a formidable and respected scholar of local history. She was for many years the town historian for Kinderhook, but the scope of her knowledge embraced all of Columbia County and extended beyond into the Hudson Valley.
Many of us were introduced to Ruth and her scholarship through the book she coauthored with Roderick Blackburn, A Visible Heritage, Columbia County, NY: A History in Art and Architecture, which was originally published in 1977. The preface to the book explains the title:
Art and architecture are our visible heritage; they symbolize our history and dramatize the creativity of our past. By emphasizing the relationship between history and the arts, history becomes more interesting and the arts more meaningful.
|Ruth Piwonka with portraits of the mayors of Kinderhook--Photo: Ralph Gardner Jr|
Columbia County has lost a great treasure. We are all richer for her scholarship and dedication. Ruth Piwonka will be sorely missed.
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